Two young girls battling cancer got a boost from Anytime Fitness, community members, and business owners last week, as the second annual “Train the Trainer” was held on Wednesday, Oct. 30.
“Last year, we raised money for a boy named Colton, who had been battling cancer since age two,” said Chris Polanco, co-owner of Anytime Fitness in New London. “We raised $1,300 in two weeks. We wanted to do everything we could to help him, because it’s so unfair when cancer attacks little kids.”
This year, Polanco set a goal of $5,000. He went to the Chamber of Commerce and asked who they could help. There are two little girls in New London who are battling cancer this year – Elizabeth “Bits” Murphy and Lily Boettcher.
Elizabeth has Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children.
“We first learned that Bits was sick in July of this year,” said Elizabeth’s mother, Wendi. “She went through a four-week induction phase to determine what category she falls into. She has been placed in a very high risk category, and has been undergoing intense therapy. We’re looking at several four-week long hospital stays up through Christmas. We hope Bits can be moved into the ‘maintenance’ status in April of 2014, and we hope to have this thing licked by 2015.”
Elizabeth is receiving treatment in Green Bay at this time.
Wendi and her husband Joe have not had time to set up a benefit fund yet, but said that donations from community members are always appreciated. “I’m not one to ask for help,” said Wendi. “But if there are people who want to help, we really would appreciate gas cards, since we put on a lot of miles back and forth between Green Bay and New London.”
Lily is battling neuroblastoma cancer. Neuroblastoma is a rare disease in which a solid tumor is formed by special nerve cells called neuroblasts. Normally, these immature cells grow and mature into functioning nerve cells. But in neuroblastoma, they become cancer cells instead.
“Lily has been diagnosed as high-risk, with stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer,” said her mother, Melissa. “We got diagnosed in August. We had gone to the doctor because she had a fever. To date, we’ve had four chemo treatments, and we’ve been going back and forth between New London and Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.
“Lily is usually confined to her room when we’re in the hospital, but we play games to pass the time,” said Melissa. “Lily and her little brother Gavin are troopers. Lily has had to endure missing her first day of Kindergarten, a big part of being a ‘normal kid’. Gavin doesn’t get to play with his big sister as much.
“We’ve got lots of hospital stays ahead. Lily will have surgery in December to remove a tumor. She will then have stem cell treatments and radiation,” added Melissa. “It’s very hard to deal with. She went from being happy and healthy to not eating much and not being able to be very active. She wants to run and play, but she can’t. We’re just trying to keep things as normal as possible.
“The support from the community, friends and family is what keeps us going,” stated Melissa. “Everyone has been so uplifting. People bring food to our house, drop off gift cards, and help babysit Gavin. It’s very humbling, and we are very blessed.”
Melissa said a benefit account has not yet been set up for Lily, but there is more information available on Facebook by visiting the page “Hope 4 Lily”. Included on the page is information on a benefit scheduled for Nov. 15.
“I wish there were no kids in these situations but since there is a need, we want to help these local families,” commented Polanco. “All funds raised during ‘Train the Trainer’ will be given to their families.”
From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., community members had the opportunity to come to Anytime Fitness and run their favorite trainer– or least favorite trainer – through a workout of their choice for a donation of $1 per minute.
This year, a new event was added. From noon to 1 p.m., a special “Train the Businessman” event was held. Participants included Terry Hilbert, Hilby’s Restaurant/New London Lanes; Ted Coppersmith, Festival Foods; Danny Plach, Plach Automotive; Joe Green, Principal; and New London Mayor Gary Henke. Community members had a chance to put them through any workout for a donation of $1 per minute.
“Each of these businessmen was more than willing to take this challenge,” said Polanco. “Everyone wanted to raise as much money as they could for these families. I really appreciate their involvement. The Printing Shop helped us print a bunch of flyers, which was a big help. Nick Ferrito at the New London Buyers Guide helped us get the word out with a full-page ad. The members of Anytime Fitness have really supported this event, and our trainers have worked hard, too. It’s been a great community effort.”
As of Saturday, Nov. 2, $2,092 had been raised. Polanco said donations are being accepted until Nov. 10 at Anytime Fitness, Plach Automotive, Hilby’s Restaurant, Parkview Elementary and Festival Foods.