As you read this column, our community will be honoring a number of extraordinary citizens who have contributed to making their communities and Central Illinois in particular an extraordinary place to live. These fundraisers honor our fellow citizens and demonstrate our commitment to institutions and programs that care for the sick, the vulnerable and those who simply do not have the resources to pay for care for their loved ones and families.

This column will not allow me to name every organization so my apologies to those who are not named. Obviously, I could not write about fundraising without mentioning Race for the Cure that honors Susan Komen and has raised enormous amounts of money for breast cancer but also enormous awareness
for women about how to identify breast cancer and also awareness of cures. In late summer, the annual Duck Race enables the Center for Prevention of Abuse to assist families coping with abuse. CFPA provides temporary housing. CFPA also assists with elder abuse. Also in late summer are the St. Jude Runs that have raised millions of dollars for sick children and their families to access treatment at the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. Special recognition and huge thanks go to Washington Police Chief Mike McCoy for years of leadership organizing the St. Jude runs.

Mayor Jim Ardis provided the leadership to restart The Mayor’s Roast that recently raised significant dollars for the Easter Seals Autism Program. Longtime Easter Seals advocate and fundraiser John Bearce was roasted. John has been instrumental in many community fundraising activities throughout the years.

The W.D. Boyce Council of the Boy Scouts of America recently honored longtime bankers Gordon and Jean Ann Honegger. The Honeggers have long been active in Central Illinois in many benevolent activities. The Peoria Historical Society honors longtime downtown and warehouse district developer
and restaurateur Pat Sullivan. Pat’s vision has enabled a transformation of Water Street and the Warehouse District. Jan Wright at IBI will announce for the 23rd year the 40 Leaders Under 40. These leaders will be honored for their leadership in all aspects of our community. They are also recognized for their potential leadership in Central Illinois. The Boys and Girls Club will have its annual Treasure Chest fundraiser. This
program has helped hundreds of girls and boys and their families and is a tribute to executive director Leslie Matuszak who transformed this program into one of the outstanding after school and summer programs in our community.

I would be remiss if I did not mention United Way that funds so many good programs. Also, very soon we will see the Red Kettle and Tree of Lights campaign that provides funding for the majority of the Salvation Army.

Finally, I want to highlight two of the most benevolent and outstanding Central Illinois citizens. Doug and Diane Oberhelman have given the full measure of their commitment, leadership and resources to our community in so many ways that will be recognized at the Easterseals Tribute Dinner.

Doug has always kept one eye on Central Illinois throughout his career at Caterpillar serving on local boards and always being available to improve our community particularly our economic development opportunities. Diane has been a leader in development most particularly in Peoria and East Peoria.

Diane and Doug have been selfless servants for Central Illinois and Easterseals kids and families will benefit from the tributes paid to them.

The reason for illustrating these fundraisers and the people who are honored is it speaks to our Central Illinois highest values of caring for one another, caring for our friends and neighbors. We live in a caring community. Much to be thankful for… so HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Ray LaHood

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