PERU - Anyone who has moved from a small town to the big city knows what a huge adjustment that can be. But the reverse can also be true. When Chicago native Craig Smith moved to the Illinois Valley a few years back, he faced quite a culture shock. Smith was lucky, though. He and his family moved next door to Ron and Char Heider and the two families formed an immediate bond.
Smith, an occupational therapist at Mendota Community Hospital, moved his young family to Peru in 1996. "At that time there were only a few other houses in our subdivision, so we got close to our neighbors, Ron and Char," Smith recalled. "They just made us feel more at ease being here."
Although coming from two different worlds, Smith said their families just clicked. "They made the transition nice for us," he explained. "We became close."
So in 2011, when Ron Heider was diagnosed with lymphoma, Smith felt compelled to do something for his neighbor. "They didn't want to be in the spotlight with fundraisers specifically for them," Smith said. "But I felt that even if I couldn't help them in that way, I could help people with the same diagnosis. I did some research and that's how I got involved with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society."
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world's largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. Their mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma through research and development and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families. "They have support services for families and they provide free education," Smith said. "I found it to be a very noble and great organization to be involved with."
Smith's goal in 2011 was to run the Chicago Classic Half Marathon as a fundraiser for LLS in honor of his neighbor. Having never run a distance race before, Smith prepared for the event through Team in Training. Team in Training is an organization comprised of Chicago area volunteer coaches who work with LLS as a way to fundraise. Because Team in Training was only available in the Chicago area, Smith traveled back to his home turf to train. "Most of the coaches are training and fundraising for their own races at the same time," Smith explained. "They provide training for half marathons, marathons, triathlons, ultra marathons, all types of races."
For the complete article see the 11-07-2012 issue.
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