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Bolingbrook resident hosts dinner-dance to benefit local Relay for Life

Published: Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 12:19 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Jan. 24, 2014 2:42 p.m. CDT

BOLINGBROOK – For the second year in a row, one Bolingbrook resident will host an event to benefit those afflicted with the same disease she was diagnosed with five years ago: cancer. 

Romance the Night Away Valentine’s Dance will be from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at Bolingbrook Golf Club, 2001 Rodeo Drive. The event will consist of a dinner, dance, cash bar and auction.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to two teams participating in the 2014 Relay For Life of Bolingbrook, a fundraising walk that benefits the American Cancer Society. 

“My family and I do this so no other family has to hear the phrase, ‘You have cancer,’ ” event coordinator Cathy Kalnicky said. “They remember how it devastated them and they would just like it to be gone.” 

Kalnicky’s team, Save Second Base and fellow Relay for Life participant Rich Johnson’s team, Cancer Kickers, will receive the event’s proceeds. The teams will then donate the money, along with any other donations they receive, to Relay For Life. 

“Their donations are huge,” Kalnicky said of guests attending the dinner event. “I know what [the American Cancer Society] has done and how hard they work and the donations will continue to support that so they get better success [treating] cancers.”

Kalnicky, a nurse, has had her own experience with the disease, as she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in 2009. The same year, she decided to form a Relay For Life team, which now consists of her family, friends and neighbors. Her experience as an oncology nurse drew her to support the efforts for a cure to all cancers. 

“I don’t just support breast cancer; I’m an equal-opportunity cancer supporter,” Kalnicky said. “There is not anybody out there that you don’t know that has somehow been touched with cancer, whether it’s themselves, in their own family or a friend.”

Kalnicky’s daughters, Cathy, Rebecca and Hannah, and husband, Bob, supported her desire to participate in Relay For Life. They and friends also provided immense support during her treatment, she said.

“When you are diagnosed with cancer it affects everyone,” Kalnicky said. “I am a person who was very blessed with a loving and caring family and friends. They were there with me every step with prayers, good wishes and just to check on me.”  

After chemotherapy and a bilateral mastectomy, Kalnicky’s cancer went into remission three-and-a-half years ago. But her road to recovery was long. 

“The first year [of Relay for Life] I couldn’t walk, so I made it around the track once during the Survivor’s Lap and that’s all I could make,” she said. 

The next year, Kalnicky was determined to do more. In cold and rainy weather, she walked for 45 minutes. 

“And last year was my best – I made it around for 8 miles,” Kalnicky said. 

Kalnicky said she began organizing the Valentine’s Day dinner event with Johnson’s help after an organization that used to coordinate it stopped doing so two to three years ago. 

“Being from Bolingbrook we’ve always had a Valentine’s dance,” Kalnicky said. “When it stopped and went away, [Johnson] and I looked at each other and said, ‘Why don’t we restart the Valentine’s Day dance again.’ ”

Last year, Kalnicky said the event raised $3,500. She hopes to exceed this amount and reach $5,000 this year. 

New to the event this year will be a live band, What About Bob. Kalnicky added that dinner will consist of a four-course meal including a soup, salad, main entrée and dessert. There will also be a cash bar. 

Auction items at the event will include Chicago Blackhawks tickets, White Sox tickets, passes to the John Hancock Observatory and several restaurant gift cards. 

Kalnicky encourages residents to attend the event because of the multitude and variety of what the American Cancer Society does. She said she has personally seen the success of the organization grow over the years, as a friend she graduated from nursing school with in 1984 passed away in the 80s from breast cancer, but Kalnicky, who was diagnosed with the disease several decades later, is alive. 

“I consider myself lucky,” Kalnicky said. “I feel eternally blessed that I am still here and healthy enough to keep going.”

Tickets to the dinner event are $45 each or $90 per couple if purchased before Feb. 1. After Feb. 1, tickets are $50 each or $95 per couple. Attire is semi-formal. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Kalnicky at 630-207-7483 or ckalnic@lumc.edu, or Johnson at 630-248-2861 or RJ_relaybbrook@live.com.  

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