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Lemont woman fights tragedy with fundraiser in remembrance of daughter, husband, father

LEMONT – A year after losing her daughter and husband, Rachael Reyna of Lemont raised $40,000 through a golf fundraiser to benefit two charities that have a special meaning to her.

The fundraiser was Aug. 9 at Ruffled Feathers Golf Course in Lemont and included a golf outing and dinner with a raffle and silent auction.

Half the money will go to the Danny Did Foundation, a charity focusing on seizure-related epilepsy deaths in children.

Reyna’s 3-year-old daughter, Ava, died Feb. 16, 2012, when she had a seizure in her sleep.

The other half of the funds raised will go to the Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network.

Reyna’s husband, Carlos, died April 20, 2012, after years of treatment for carcinoid cancer.

Her father also died two weeks after her husband.

Reyna said the idea for having a golf charity event came in March at the suggestion of her brother.

“One day, my brother just called me and said, ‘What do you think about having a charity golf event and would you have any charities in mind?,’” she said.

Reyna, who has two other children and works as a loan originator, said she saw organizing the golf event as a way to take her mind off losing three family members the previous year.

The results were more than she expected.

“It was unbelievable,” she said. “I had four months to do it. I never did anything like this before.”

The event sold out five weeks in advance. One hundred and twenty-eight people took part in the golf outing and 215 attended the dinner. Most of them were friends and family.

One of the participants was Dan Hannon, who worked with Carlos for 15 years and became a close friend of the family.

“I wanted to raise as much money as I could for what she was doing,” he said.

Through donations, Reyna also collected 30 raffle baskets and 40 silent auction items.

Reyna said she wants to keep track of how her donations are being used with the two charities.

“I’d like the golfers to know, everybody who participated, where the money went,” she said.

Reyna said she plans to organize another golf fundraiser Aug. 8 next year, although she feels pressure based on the success of this year’s event.

“I’m kind of scared about trying to have to top it,” she said.

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