Fundraiser aims to raise awareness about skin cancer
BY FRANK VAISVILAS Correspondent March 24, 2014 8:44PM
The March 4 Meg walk/run is scheduled for March 29. | Supplied photo
If you go ...
What: March 4 Meg race and walk cancer benefit
When: 7 a.m. March 29; after-party at 11 a.m.
Where: Klein Park, 97th Street and Homan Avenue, Evergreen Park; after-party at American Legion, 9701 S. Kedzie Ave.
Cost: $35 registration, $65 for a family of five
Updated: April 26, 2014 6:14AM
Nancy Donovan hopes the community will become more aware of how harmful the sun’s ultraviolet rays can be, and ditto for tanning beds.
So in memory of her daughter, Meg Moonan, who died of melanoma skin cancer at age 43, Donovan and other organizers are planning a “March 4 Meg” race and walk on Saturday, March 29 at Klein Park in Evergreen Park.
Donovan said she got the idea for the fundraising race from her niece, who is a runner.
“We were really struggling (with Moonan’s death),” Donovan said. “We were really grief-stricken. (This race) is to try to turn things around and help other families. ... We just all banded together. We really feel like we’re making a difference.”
Moonan died on March 30, 2012 after a 19-month battle with the cancer, and this is the second race in her name. Donovan said they’re looking to make it an annual event.
“(Moonan) was a very quiet and unassuming person who was very strong and courageous during this (fight against cancer),” Donovan said.
She said Moonan was well-liked in the community and had served on the PTA at Southwest Elementary School in Evergreen Park.
Donovan said Moonan also taught a weight-loss program at the library and was a member of Holy Redeemer Church.
Moonan underwent two surgeries, several experimental treatments and 16 hospital stays before leaving behind a husband and four children.
Donovan said Moonan did not use tanning beds but did get sunburned at times as a child before the use of sunscreen was prevalent.
She said with her Irish heritage and fair skin, Moonan was more susceptible to getting melanoma.
The races raise money for cancer research at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and help raise awareness about skin screenings.
If caught early, melanoma, which is one of the fastest-growing cancers in the United States, has a 90 percent survival rate, according to organizers. In fact, Donovan said Moonan’s twin sister was screened after Moonan was diagnosed and the cancer was caught early enough in her for successful treatment.
For this year’s race, Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton and his wife are chairing the event, which is a sign to Donovan that the community has taken up the cause.
She said 1,700 people registered last year but is hoping at least 2,000 sign up this year.
“Registration has really exploded the last couple of days,” Donovan said.
She said several families who are affected by melanoma also wanted to be a part of this year’s events.
The event will include free skin screens for all participants by Southwest Dermatology and an after-party at the American Legion.