Moderator: Garrison Officers

IL-Normal-Relay for Life-June 24 & 25, 2005

Postby TKvanB » Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:49 pm

Event: Relay for Life - The "Imperial Walkers" of the Midwest Garrison help rid the galaxy of cancer

Date: June 24-25, 2005

Location: Normal, Illinois

Midwest Garrison Members in attendance:

Chip Childress TK9965 of Fithian, IL
Kevin Kemarly TK3290 of Onarga, IL
Jeremy Wilcox TK7503 of Heyworth, IL
Robert Sipes TK3033 of Springfield, IL
Barry Benecke TK523 of Bensenville, IL
Mary Walton BH5202 of Aurora, IL
Steven Crouch TB1181 (team captain) of Normal, IL

*unable to attend:

*Brad Wilson
*John Duffy

Event plannning information posted:

MWG Relay For Life Event - 6/24 thru 6/25

MWG Relay Event a HUGE SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Event Summary:

From Steven Crouch, team captain:

"Relay for Life" cancer walk June 24-25, 2005 in Normal, Illinois
Midwest Garrison's team: "The Imperial Walkers" was there representing
Together we can help rid the galaxy of cancer!
As far as event details go, they are as follows:

- Our team raised $2303 and was awarded a bronze pin for each team member. We also raised an additional $1050 in matching contributions, although these are pending approval.

-To help promote our team members, Steven printed Midwest Garrison brochures and "team" pamphlets that members handed out to people who were interested in our group. Barry Beneke came up with the "Cancer Wars: A New Hope" idea. Steven used his graphic skills to create event-specific laminated badges to identify our team members at the event and he made 2' x 3' posters to carry in the walk and keep at the campsite. See enclosed pdf file for the graphic.

- We auctioned off several Star Wars toys to add to our donations, which included: C3 Darth Vader, Darth Tater, 4 OT figures, an E3 Anakin Skywalker color change light saber, Darth Vader voice changer helmet, and 2 puzzles

- Our team was voted 1st place for best camp site

-We braved 96 degree weather with a heat index of 105, and most of us went with only 1-2 hours of sleep!!! We each probably walked between 6-10 miles, with Barry probably walking even more!!!

-Steven Crouch TB1181, 501st Legion Midwest Garrison

Here are some of our participating member's accounts of their efforts leading up to the walk and then their experiences afterwards:

From Barry Benecke TK523 of Bensenville, IL:

As we get closer to this event, I am really getting excited about being able to participate. I have raised $85 so far for our team, with promises of more money coming in. I spent this afternoon writing a letter to family and friends which I will be mailing out tomorrow about our teams effort to raise money for cancer research, and the Relay For Life. It reads as follows:

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing to ask you to sponsor me in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. Members of the 501st Midwest Garrison Star Wars costuming club will be walking in the 2005 Relay For Life beginning at noon on Friday June 24th thru Saturday June 25th. This will be my first year participating in the Relay For Life, and I will be in downstate Normal, Illinois for this event.

I will be walking: In memory of my mom, Virginia Lynn Benecke

My Personal goal this year is to raise $250. Please consider supporting me in this special event. If you would like to sponsor me, please make a check payable to the American Cancer Society
and get it to me by June 22nd, 2005 to:

Barry W. Benecke II
361 N. York St. #1
Elmhurst, IL. 60126

The money raised by this event will help support the American Cancer Society programs in research, education, advocacy, and service-locally, statewide, and nationally.

The first Relay for Life was held in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington, and raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay For Life has become a nationwide event.

The local 2005 Relay For Life event will once again include a Luminary Program at 9:30 pm. On Friday June 24th, which will pay tribute to those who have been affected by cancer. A luminary is a candle set into a special white paper bag filled with sand. When the candle is lit, it illuminates the area around it with a soft white body of light. Luminaries bearing special personalized messages will line the relay track and will be kept burning throughout the night to represent the healing power of community and the importance of funding to find a cure. It is a very moving ceremony and is even more stirring to read all the loving messages on each of the thousands of luminaries lining the track. I invite all of you to come witness this special event.

Luminaries can be purchased in honor of those who have survived their battle with cancer, for those still fighting, and in memory of those who have courageously battled this disease, but like my own mother, have lost. If you would like to purchase a luminary, please be sure to include the Luminary Form with a $5 minimum donation.

Thank you for supporting me in the 2005 Relay For Life


My mom passed away last night, May 27th, 2005


I was informed last night that my mom has passed away after a long battle with colon cancer. She passed in my brothers arms, as he held her hand, and stroked her hair. She passed on around 7:30 in the evening, May 27th 2005. She was only 59 years old.

If you would like to do anything, instead of cards or flowers I ask that you make a donation to the "American Cancer Society". I will be walking in the Relay for life, June 24th thru June 25th. I would appreciate your sponsorship as I will be walking in memory of my mom, Virginia Lynn Benecke. She fought a brave battle. She is in a better place now.

If you care to donate, make a check or money order to the "American Cancer Society" as a sponsorship donation. Please do not send cash. Send your donation to:

Barry W. Benecke II
361 N. York St. #1
Elmhurst, IL. 60126

We are having my mom cremated, no services are planned at this time, just a celebration of her life her on Earth. I am heading to Wisconsin tomorrow to be with my family.

God Bless, Sincerely, Barry

From Steven Crouch TB1181 (team captain) of Normal, IL:

First I want to thank everyone that made it out for this event and took the time and energy to raise money for cancer research. This is something that has hit close to home for two troopers on our relay team, and is obviously hitting close to home for everyone because of Katie, Albin's daughter.

Our team raised a whopping total of $2303 in less than 2 months!!!!! Only one other team did similar numbers (actually more than twice our number) in similar time! We were congratulated over and over and thanked probably a zillion times. Our team raised enough money to be considered bronze class, so we received a commemorative pin although given that we had $1050 in matching contributions there is a possibility that our final total will be well over $3000!

Not only did we do an outstanding job raising money but we were also awarded 1st place for best camp site because of our armor !! You must bear in mind that there were several camp sites that were AMAZING and totally deserved the award. I mean, all we had were a few tents, a BBQ grill, some imperial caution tape, and a bunch of guys in armor that kept going on the track to walk and sweat and ache until they couldn't walk anymore. But everyone simply LOVED us and thought that we deserved it for our efforts and for coming out and doing the walk in costume. We were a HUGE hit! So much in fact that we were on our local radio and TV stations, as well as front page of our local paper...

(see below for quote of article and attached picture featured on the FRONT page!)

Now I would also like to give a VERY special thanks to Barry Beneke as he was the REAL "trooper" in this event (no pun intended). By himself he raised over $1100 AND was able to get Wal-Mart to do a matching contribution of $1000. Nothing short of amazing. Barry is, without a doubt, one of the best darn troopers on the planet and should be congratulated on his fine work. Kudos, man!!!

So what does this mean? It means that an event with 2 thousand or so people, and a region with about a half a million or more people got to see what the MWG and 501st are all about. It means that they want us to come back and do this again. It means that next time we come back in greater numbers and with more costumes. It means that next time we make twice as much money and let EVERYONE in the downstateIllinois area know that the Galactic Empire is out there fighting the "Cancer Wars" first hand... fighting for a "New Hope"... fighting for a cure...

... and next year, the Imperial Walkers Strike Back!!!

From Barry Benecke TK523 of Bensenville, IL:

I must give Kudos to Steven for putting this event together. Without him, there wouldn't have been a team "Imperial Walkers", and I would not have been motivated to raise money for our team. It was a very touching event, the luminary event was simply awesome. They lined the track with white luminary bags which you could purchase for $5.00 each. The bags had the name of the "In Honor" of the person of your choice, and had "Remembered by" the name of the person purchasing the luminary. After all the candles in the bags were lit, they turned out the lights and the bags lit the outside perimeter of the track. During the walk, they read the names over the loudspeaker of those whose names were on the bags. I heard my mom's name twice, as two people sponsored bags in her name. Mary Walton got a bag for Luis's father. Very emotional and moving.

With the temperatures hitting the high 90's we all got worn out by days end from the heat and the sun, and the armor. I won a couple of small prizes for participating in the various "Spirit laps" they had. Each spirit lap had a theme. The folks on the track who were wearing something with that theme got a raffle ticket. I won once for "Sports" theme wearing my Cubs jersey, then again with the next hours lap wearing something patriotic.

Thanks to all the Troopers who made it, and Thanks to Mary for driving down in her air conditioned car!

From: Mary Walton BH5202 of Aurora, IL

On a side note, a gentleman came up and told us that even though they have done this event for 12 years, they never received front page coverage. They have a similar story every year about a cancer survivor and had been disappointed that their cause had never made the front page. Thanks to you guys, their cause and Brittany's wonderful survival story made FRONT PAGE!!!

Newspaper article featured on the front page:

By Paul Swiech

NORMAL -- Katie Beres, 13, of Carlock was on the track at Normal Community West High School on Friday afternoon, walking with family, dressed in a grass skirt and lei.
"She's resuming life as normal today," her dad, Dave Beres, said with a smile.

Later, Britney Villhauer, 16, of Normal walked the track with her parents and got into a playful water gun fight with walkers dressed as "Star Wars" storm troopers.

"I come here because it's fun," Britney said. "It's like one big party."

A party with a purpose.

Katie and Britney are cancer survivors. They are among 350 cancer survivors and 1,500 walkers participating until noon today in the 24-hour American Cancer Society Relay for Life of McLean County. Among dignitaries who made appearances at the event on Friday afternoon were U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, and Bloomington Mayor Steve Stockton.

Purposes of the event are to raise money for cancer society research, programs and services; to honor cancer survivors and those who have died of cancer; and to have fun.

Katie is celebrating life because tests on June 6 and June 13 revealed that her Ewing's sarcoma -- a malignant tumor developing from bone marrow -- is in complete remission.

"I'm happy," Katie said while taking a break in her relay team tent.

"I'm happy that she's OK," said her stepmother, Terry. Then Terry began to cry.

In April 2004, Katie detected a lump in her pelvic area. It was removed on July 12. On July 27, doctors told her it was cancer.

"I was scared," Katie admitted. "I didn't know what Ewing's sarcoma was. But I knew what cancer was."

She asked her parents if she would die.

A second surgery, MRIs and bone scans determined that the cancer hadn't spread, so Katie didn't need radiation.

But she needed chemotherapy, which began in August and ended on May 22. She had 14 rounds of inpatient chemotherapy at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana; was admitted to the hospital seven more times because of fever, infections and other complications; and received numerous shots to build up her white blood count.

She experienced numerous side effects and got through seventh grade at Parkside Junior High School by having tutors at home and at Carle. She got through it all by having fun.

"We played Yahtzee. We played tennis with a Whiffle ball in the hospital room. We played Swap (a card game). We watched videos."

"Katie smiled a lot," her dad said.

After Katie's final round of chemo, Dave and Terry asked Katie about Relay for Life.

"It sounded like fun," she said. "I already had gone through it (cancer treatment) and we wanted to raise money to help other people." In 3 1/2 weeks, family and friends raised $5,389.97.

Asked her advice for other young patients, Katie said: "Keep happy thoughts. Be strong and have a good attitude."

Britney, her family and friends began walking in relay in 1997. Two years later, Britney was 10 and began experiencing severe headaches. She had an MRI and biopsy and was diagnosed with a low-grade brain tumor.

Because the tumor was preventing cranial fluid from draining from her head, doctors did surgery to insert a shunt, or tube, to drain the fluid from her brain behind her ear down to her abdomen. She was put on anti-seizure medicine, but doctors decided to monitor the tumor.

"It's inoperable because it's right above the brain stem," said her mother, Holly.

During the next five years, her shunt was replaced three times and she had to give up gymnastics.

In December 2003, a test revealed a change in chemical activity within the tumor. In April 2004, she began chemotherapy every Friday after school at the Community Cancer Center in Normal and generally felt sick the entire weekend.

Treatments have been suspended because Britney's white blood count is too low. Treatments may resume later this summer. Meanwhile, tests have shown that the tumor isn't shrinking, but it isn't growing either.

Britney hopes to resume cross country and track at Normal Community High School during her upcoming senior year.

"The tumor doesn't really affect my life," she said.

Britney's advise to young people is: "Let the people who love you, help you. What helps me is I look for the good in everyone and smile a lot. Keep the faith and put your trust in God."
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Postby TKvanB » Sat Jul 07, 2007 3:57 pm

aw. :( The picture links are broken now.

I'm glad the stories are still here though. :D The stories are awesome!
The Midwest Garrison, proudly serving the 501st Legion since 1999.
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