Cops 4 Cancer were hoping to be out of business by now – members are eager for science to find a cure – but nonetheless has much to celebrate.
The organization marks 20 years assisting families grappling with cancer – 714 families and counting – and members decided to mark the milestone with a two-day fundraiser Friday evening and Saturday in Cedar Point.
Cops 4 Cancer grew from a private fundraiser at Terry Guisti’s Peru home in 2003 and officially became a not-for-profit seven years later after it joined forces with Betty Glynn, another cancer advocate. Together, they thought they could do more to help families reeling from a common foe.
“It feels great,” Guisti said of two decades of service to the sick and to their families. “None of us would have thought we’d go from raising $20,000 to a running total of $2 million. It’s crazy.
“And most of that is because of the local businesses and the people who help,” he said, “otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Cops 4 Cancer hope to draw many participants this weekend because the need for support is, sadly, undiminished. Also, corporate donors have restructured how they donate, with the result that Cops 4 Cancer is more dependent than ever on individual donors.
It’s amazing that we’ve made it 20 years
— Adam Conness, longtime volunteer
Tickets are $20 and include live entertainment 5-10 p.m. Friday and 1-11 p.m. Saturday at Cerri Memorial Park. A food truck will be available for purchases Friday. Saturday’s celebration is from 1 to 11 p.m. and includes food and soft drinks plus a beer garden, raffles and 50/50 drawing.
(A continuous loop shuttle will be offered to ferry people from Cedar Point to Peru taverns including Edge’s Tap, Bridgetender’s Pub, Riverfront Bar & Grill and Elle’s Tap.)
Tickets may be purchased at Rudy’s Liquors, 285 Chartres St., La Salle, or at the event.
Guisti, a former Oglesby and Peru patrol officer who retired in 2020 as a detective in Oswego, held the first couple of all-day fundraisers at his home. When the event outgrew his yard, at which point they moved it to Cedar Point.
That’s not to say the early fundraising was easy. Adam Conness, who retired recently from Peru police, is among the original supporters. He remembered asking businesses to donate and having to explain what Cops 4 Cancer was and what the organization would do with the money.
A few early donors were initially skeptical, he recalled, and required a bit of persuasion before they donated. With time, the Illinois Valley has come to know and support Cops 4 Cancer and the wallets fly open more readily.
“It’s amazing that we’ve made it 20 years,” Conness said. “We’ve helped so many people and they tell their friends who tell their friends – and that’s why we’re as big as we are.”
Glynn, now board president for Cops 4 Cancer, cheered on the early efforts even as she conducted her own work for breast cancer when, in 2010, they banded together and formed a not-for-profit entity.
“As a two-time breast cancer survivor, I feel my dream of making difference is now a beautiful reality thanks to our dedicated C4C Nation,” Glynn said. “Cops 4 Cancer has enriched my life and touched my soul. I’m so proud of how we have remained steadfast and dedicated without any grants or government funding.”
The joint effort yielded plenty of aid for distressed families, but it also brought more distressed families to their doorstep.
“It actually got to the point where it was a little overwhelming because we had so many applications come in,” Guisti said. “We haven’t had to turn anybody down – unless they’re outside our coverage area – but now we’re to the point we’re pretty confident we can help everybody.”
And they help with a diffuse array of needs. The application is worded to let families from many forms of aid – gas cards for travel to out-of-area hospitals, for example – but Cops 4 Cancer has also reached out to local businesses for help with in-kind services that otherwise might break the bank.
“We’ve had people to ask for their furnaces repaired,” Guisti said. “We’ve helped people with auto repairs. Anything people need we will, within our means, try to accommodate them.”
For more information, visit cops4cancer.com.