Choose hope and work to end pediatric cancer this Donna Day!

Do you remember when you were small?
How everybody would seem so tall
I am your shadow in the dark
I have your blood inside my heart
— Spoon, “Me and the Bean

donnaToday is Donna Day. It’s a day to celebrate the life of Donna Quirke-Hornik, who was pirated away from this world by childhood cancer at four years, two months, four weeks, and one day old.

If you haven’t read Donna’s story, penned by her emotive and eloquent mama, Sheila (aka ChicagoNow writer Mary Tyler Mom), I suggest you start there.

Donna has a mama, pops and two wonderful little brothers. Her photos and artwork decorate their home; her height is marked next to her brothers’ on a sweet burlap ribbon hanging where the kitchen and hallway meet. And while I want to write about triumph of the spirit, the beauty in the small things – which is a perfect description of Sheila opting to choose hope –  I am simply incredulous that this is a family’s daily reality. From an outsider’s perspective, the silver linings are often so thin that they’re nearly invisible.

And now, as a mother of a four-year-old, I look at him daily and think of Donna. While I never had the privilege of meeting her, I know how loved Donna is and cannot even feign to imagine the loss endured by the families faced with childhood cancer diagnoses.

According to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a “volunteer-driven charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long and healthy lives”:

Childhood cancer is the # 1 disease killer of children in the U.S—in fact, more than many other childhood diseases combined.

– Many adult cancers can be diagnosed early. In 80% of kids diagnosed, cancer has already spread to other areas of the body by the time it is diagnosed.


– Fifty years ago, fewer than 10% of children diagnosed with cancer survived long term. Today, that number is almost 80% overall.

Progress is possible. And on this Donna Day, you can help by donating to St. Baldrick’s in Donna’s name, and/or sign up to support shavers (or become one!) at  Donna’s Good Things’ Shave fundraiser on Saturday March 28 at the Candlelite in Chicago. Celebrate Donna’s legacy and know that the most modest of donations can help end childhood cancer.

Like Donna’s Good Things (501 c 3) on Facebook and get the details from the St. Baldrick’s Shave fundraiser event page. Or you can always hit me up for info!

About St. Baldrick’s Fundraising:

Of every dollar raised, 79.5% funds research to find a cure, 17.7% goes to fundraising (website, phones, postage, printing, t-shirts, office space, staff, etc.) and 2.8% goes to administration (accounting, distributing and monitoring grants, etc.). St. Baldrick’s takes its responsibility to be efficient and good stewards of every dollar donated very seriously, and strives to put the most funding possible into the hands of researchers who can cure childhood cancers.

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