Tag Archives: Lincoln Park

Paul Skeffington Memorial Race: More Than Just A Road Race

The first running of the Paul Skeffington Memorial Race took place on June 11th, 1988. It was started by the family of Paul Skeffington, a popular local businessman, who passed away in January of 1988. At that time, I was the Director of the DeWitt Chamber of Commerce Chamber so when the family asked for ideas for a memorial we proposed a race/run/walk with proceeds to go towards community projects.  Paul had been an avid walker and huge supporter of the community, so this seemed like a natural fit.  So how did we “run a race”?  Well, with the help of a group of runners, along with the Skeffington family, other volunteers, and business sponsors we put on a race that had 330 participants…but who would have thought that 31 years later the race would still be running!!!  Over the years, this race, under the direction of a hardworking group of volunteers, has grown in popularity.  The postrace party has evolved into a community, family friendly event.  In fact, this will be the first time our postrace party will be listed on the Tunes in Town schedule and promoted as the only Saturday night concert with music by Wild Oatz, food by the DeWitt Nite Lions, and a beer garden sponsored by Hall of Fame Pizza & Wings & Scott Drug. You can find additional information on our web site http://skeffrace.com/

And true to its original mission, the Paul Skeffington Memorial Race continues to support improvement projects for our community. The race annually provides two $500 scholarships to Central DeWitt High School seniors. The race has also made significant contributions to DeWitt Parks and Recreation projects that include a $30,000 donation towards the new bridge at Westbrook Park and $25,000 for the Paul Skeffington Memorial Trail expansion that will be part of this year’s race course.  I was actively involved with the race for the first 10 years.  At that point in time, I felt it was time for new leadership and stepped back.  Three years ago, I was approached to serve as the race director – Thinking back to the legacy of Paul, his commitment and support of the community and to fitness, I found myself saying yes…And I also found that some things haven’t changed.  The race is still organized by an excellent group of volunteers.  The Fun Run is still FREE and we’ve gone back to having a bike give away for the youngsters who take part.  And the cost of the race has stayed the same since the first one which is due to the phenomenal sponsorship support we get from area businesses!  And post party keeps evolving into a community gathering of runners, walkers, spectators, with family friendly events, food, and FREE entertainment!

I moved to DeWitt in 1977 as a newlywed and I’ve never looked back.  DeWitt has Delivered my hometown…it’s where my 3 kids were all born and raised. It’s where I had the opportunity to  help DeWitt grow while serving as the first full time Executive Director of the DeWitt Chamber and Development Corporation.  I’ve served on numerous local, state, and national boards that helped keep DeWitt in the spotlight. I’ve traveled the world but always look forward to coming back to DeWitt, my home.

Ilene Deckert – Paul Skeffington Memorial Race Director 

 

 

 

Joseph’s Story

Many of you have probably heard of St. Baldrick’s and think of it as an event where people get their heads shave to raise money to help in the fight against childhood cancer.  However, there is really so much more to this event and some great success stories of kids with cancer, beating cancer and getting healthy, in part from the funds raised from St.Baldrick’s.  My son Joseph is one of those children and here is his story…

In 2011, Joseph was a seemingly healthy 5-year-old who was looking forward to starting Kindergarten that fall.  In mid-July, all that changed when we found out he had an inoperable brain tumor and hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain).   Dreams of kindergarten turned to wishes to see him healthy.  He was unresponsive for a few days and we longed just to see his baby blue eyes and smile again.

That was over 6 years ago, but we still remember going to our first Iowa City appointment and hearing what his chemo regimen would be.  In Chicago, where he was diagnosed, the neurooncologist sat with us and explained that the “best” treatment they have for Joseph’s type of brain tumor is 60% effective.

Wow – as if hearing the words “your child has cancer” wasn’t life changing enough now the best we could hope for was a little more than a 50/50 chance that the chemo would cure his cancer.

Joseph is doing well (5 years off treatment).  He is fairly healthy but we are still watching some issues due to chemo and he is starting to slowly overcome some latent effects of his chemo but we are still getting good reports that his tumor is stable.

Childhood cancer is different in the treatment of it.  Detection alone is an issue as unlike adult cancers, in 80% of kids with cancer it has already spread to other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed.  Not only are the cancer’s specific to where they occur such as a brain tumor vs leukemia but it also is dependent on their age.  Certain cancers are treated differently based on the age of the child which just adds to the complexity of treating pediatric cancer.   Joseph’s chemo had a 60% chance of working, we were in the lucky 60%.  However even when cancers are 90% curable that still means that 10% of the parents hearing those words “your child has cancer” will lose their child and that’s not ok.

The funding is not there from other sources for childhood cancer research.  The fact is only 4% of federal funding goes to childhood cancer.  About 60% of all funding for drug development in adult cancers come from pharmaceutical companies – yet they fund almost none in childhood cancer because they are not profitable.

While there are treatments for many of the childhood cancers out there, not only are they not 100% effective, they leave lasting effects.  The nurse told us at our first appointment when we were learning all about Joseph’s chemo regimen that the chemo will destroy good, bad cells and it is a poison so it attacks many types of cells not just the cancer cells.  So not only were we just 2 weeks past finding out that our son had a brain tumor but now we were being told that we were going to be giving him poison to make him better.  No one takes their child to the doctor and gets poison to treat an infection – you give them something that is fairly low risk.  This is not ok.  The treatments take a toll on these children’s bodies.  Yes, many go on to live into adulthood but the fact is that through the years into adulthood we will be watching for potential issues caused by Joseph’s chemo which may show up this year or may show up in 5 years or 20 years.  We don’t live our life in fear but this is a reality.  This is a reality of all pediatric cancer survivors.

And even if your child is lucky enough to survive their cancer, statistics show that by the time “they’re 45 years old, more than 95% of survivors will have a chronic health problem and 80% will have severe or life-threatening conditions”.

Great things can come from research and hopefully one day when a parent hears those words “your child has cancer” it will be followed by the words “but we have a cure for that” or “we have a treatment for that and he/she is going to be ok”.  That’s what we dream of – that’s why we participate in St. Baldrick’s and promote it because they are helping to fund the research that will one day lead to a cure.

This year, in addition to the head shaving, there is a new part to the event called “Short Hair, Don’t Care”.  For those people wanting to become heroes for kids with cancer but not ready to brave the shave, we have created a “Short Hair, Don’t Care” part to the event where people can donate 8 or more inches of their hair to an organization that gives wigs to kids affected by cancer.

We are looking for shavees or people to donate inches of hair and barbers for this year’s event.

The annual St. Baldrick’s event will take place on March 24th, 2018 at the Community Center in DeWitt’s Lincoln Park.  There will be food, music, kids’ activities, a bake sale and silent auction.

Those interested in participating can REGISTER HERE!

Click here to stay up-to-date with St. Baldrick’s of Clinton County and like their Facebook page.

Donations can be made at the same website as above. If you want to donate by check or have questions please contact me directly at 563-249-7663 or by email.

Your support of St. Baldrick’s may seem so simple yet it truly means so much to families and kids affected by cancer.

Julie Burken – Mom of Joseph Burken-pediatric cancer survivor and Organizer/Shavee-Clinton County St. Baldricks 2018

Fresh Food & Friendly Conversations

At the core of community is the sharing of food.  A farmer’s market is a shared space wherein folks meet face to face and talk about food.  Perhaps this explains why the number of farmer’s markets nationwide have increased from 1755 in 1996 to 8,144 in 2013.  A farmer’s market connects people together.  A farmer’s market provides space for friendly conversations with folks who actually have grown, harvested and prepared food.  Folks at a farmer’s market share not only the food itself, but also information about how the food is grown and prepared.  Shoppers  at a farmer’s market can ask questions and express their preferences in face to face conversations with vendors.

‘Walkable space’ is a term used by city planners and developers to refer to a shared space within community that is accessible on foot.  There’s really nothing new about this concept—in plain English, we call this space a “park”.  Such shared spaces seem to connect people together and enhance the quality of life in a community. Here in DeWitt our farmer’s market is centrally located on the east side of Lincoln Park Thursday afternoons (between 3:30-6:30PM) from May thru October.  Although we struggle from time to time with unpleasant weather, on good days many folks seem to enjoy a walk to the market from their homes.  There is grass, shade, benches, and picnic tables, and a playground nearby.  The DeWitt Farmer’s Market is a relaxing way to get some exercise on a summer afternoon and to visit with neighbors.  It doesn’t cost as much money as some other outdoor entertainment.   It’s truly a nice walk in the park.

John Ivens, Farmers Market Manager

Lincoln Park in Bloom

I have always liked DeWitt’s Lincoln Park.  It is a favorite playground of our grandchildren.  We often take a picnic lunch to the park when they visit.  I enjoy the summer community band concerts, Tunes in Town and the Farmers’ Market.  Our family watches parades and races from the shade of the trees in Lincoln Park.

The DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation invites you to spend some time in Lincoln Park on Saturday, September 17, at the John Bloom Arts Festival.  This is the 14th annual arts festival.  The foundation started the event to give local artists an opportunity to display and sell their creations.  It is just one of the many projects that the foundation has to promote fine arts activities in DeWitt.

Twenty local vendors will have their creations for sale at the arts festival between 10am- 3pm on the 17th.  All items are hand crafted.  Those creations include art work, yard art, woven baskets, doll clothes, loomed rugs, jewelry and pottery.  The Nite Lions provide lunch and the Central Community Historical Society serves pie.  Andrew Vickers is the musical entertainment throughout the day.  The Central DeWitt art teachers have make-and-take crafts for children.   It is not only an opportunity to see the creativity of others, but to enjoy time in the park and meet your neighbors!

The name of the John Bloom Arts Festival honors artist and native son, John Bloom.  John was a contemporary of Grant Wood, one of my favorite artists.  I think the story of John’s mural located in DeWitt’s City Hall is fascinating.  DeWitt is fortunate to have John Bloom prints on permanent display in the First Central Gallery located in the Operahouse Theatre.  There is also a large collection of John’s work at the Central Historical Society.  John Bloom may have lived in DeWitt many years ago, but the spirit of the town he depicted in his paintings still lives!

Marsha Witte – DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation board member

Get Lost in DeWitt…

P1120961webA clear, brisk night and Lincoln Park is donned with pumpkins, hay bales, and all things autumn.  You can grab a sweet or savory crepe, barbeque pork chop, or pulled pork sandwich while listening to the band Soul Storm playing in the band shell.  My daughter and all her friends dash for the bounce houses, games, pedal tractor pull, or the “green park” where they run into their school friends and convene their playtime and socializing.  The first weekend in October was Autumn Fest in DeWitt and because autumn is the “most wonderful time of the year” for me, I was glad it had been rescheduled from the cold and rainy date weeks earlier.  The yearly event is just one of the many ways to “get lost” in the happiness of the community and the laughter with friends and family.

October in DeWitt is also a perfect time to get out and enjoy the colors.  If you’re an outdoor person, I know you can appreciate DeWitt as much as I do.  From Springbrook Country Club to Westbrook and Lincoln Park, to all the little streets in between…the trees are just beginning their transformations !

In wanting to find the perfect tree for this post I pulled into Westbrook early one morning planning to jump out and take a quick photo of a tree near the beginning of the Paul Skeffington Trail.  It was beautiful…but wait, what’s that around the corner?  And over the bridge, and down the trail…I found myself walking the entire length of Westbrook taking pictures around every turn.  It was dewy and foggy but the sun was just beginning to shine through in hidden spots.  I hadn’t grabbed my phone or car keys, all I had were my walking shoes and camera and it was glorious.  Of course I met familiar facesP1120907web along the way, as this is DeWitt, and most greeted me with a friendly “Whatcha up to?” in seeing the camera on my shoulder, and then in turn, discussing what a gorgeous morning it was.  And that, my friends, is what I love about DeWitt.  By the time I got back to my car I had missed two calls from work and had forgotten about a repairman that was on his way to the house to fix our garage door.  But I was happy I had gotten “lost in DeWitt” for just an hour.  I hope you’ll notice the autumn beauty on your way to work, school or maybe on your morning run or evening walk.  Here was my favorite photo from my Westbrook morning!

Lisa LeConte, DeWitt Resident and Mother