Men, women and children from the Southwest Side are invited to join a growing group of friends at the Fifth Annual “Walk It OutFor Andrew” (WIOFA) fundraiser, set for Saturday, June 7 at West Lawn Park, 4233 West 65th Street.
The event’s purpose is twofold: first, to honor the memory of Andrew Smialek, a Southwest Sider and St. Rita High School alumnus who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2004, barely a month after graduating from St. Mary Star of the Sea School. Andrew bravely fought the disease all through his years as an active student at St. Rita High School, finally succumbing in November of 2009, while he was a freshman at DePaul University.
His family and friends say that Andrew will always be remembered for his strength, courage
and, above all, love for life. Andrew never let his struggles bring him down and consistently brought joy to all that knew him. His selflessness and determination to fight against cancer will forever live on as inspiration for Walk It Out For Andrew.
The event's other import goal is to raise funds to support pediatric oncology services at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn. Within the hospital is the Keyser FamilyPediatric Cancer Center. This center is an 8,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility developed to deliver high quality outpatient care in a comfortable and healing environment. With the mission of treating all children with pediatric cancer and hematologic diseases, the Keyser Center assures that all children, their families and loved ones are cared for from the moment they enter the hospital and throughout the transition to adult medical care.
Starting with just a handful of dedicated family and friends, the event has grown in size every year and has raised tens of thousands of dollars for pediatric oncology services.
“Walk It Out For Andrew” check-in starts at 1 p.m., and the 5K walk itself steps off at 2 p.m. The family-focused event will include food, prize drawings, entertainment and more.
Commemorative T-shirts will be sold at the event for $10 each.
For those participating in the walk, registration fee is $15 at the event, $10 in advance for those who signup online at wiofa.org.
Sponsors of the 2014 WIOFA include Saint Rita of Cascia High School, the BandmansCompany, M. De Masi Designs, Twisted Shamrock Pub, the Chicago Bears, the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Bulls/White Sox Academy, the Windy City Thunderbolts, Charter Fitness, Chicago Glass Blocks, and Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant.
Andrew's friends--talented, dynamic and big-hearted--have produced videos in recent years about the "Walk It Out" effort. Here are a few of them:
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