EVERGREEN PARK, Ill. — On the last weekend of summer, residents of Evergreen Park took on a different season for good reason.
“Every year, this gets bigger and better,” organizer and founder Gerri Neylon said.
Neylon is the founder of ‘Christmas Without Cancer‘, an organization that has raised money for those battling any form of the disease for nearly 20 years.
“Cancer doesn’t just happen around Christmastime. It happens all year round. So we help with rent, mortgage, car payments, household expenses, co-pays, we give gift cards for gas and groceries, there’s a lot that we do,” Neylon said.
In 2021, upwards of 1,000 people are taking part, running, walking and volunteering. This year, the organization is helping three people, including Nicole Houilhan, an oncology nurse who was diagnosed with cancer in 2020.
“They helped me significantly through my diagnosis and when I wasn’t working and when my husband wasn’t working because of COVID, so we are just so grateful and I’m happy to now be a part of their team,” Houlihan said.
Last August, Don Gredna was diagnosed with leukemia. He received a stem cell transplant in January and is currently on the road to recovery.
“When you’re diagnosed and you’re told you have two to three months to live if you don’t follow their regimen,” Gredna said.
Gredna added that him and his wife were overwhelmed with the support offered by Christmas Without Cancer.
Over the years, the organization has granted more than $1 million in help and wishes, proving that those that fight alongside those battling cancer are doing so step-by-step as well.