Inspired by his 2-year-old daughter, Superior native Will Rogers is fighting back against blood cancer. He aims to raise $150,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Man and Woman of the Year Campaign - $1,000 for each of the 150 visits his family has made to Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago since his daughter, Charlotte, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Rogers lives in the Chicago area, but friends and family members throughout the country are stepping up to help him reach his goal. The effort includes a trio of Superior fundraising events from 5:30-10 p.m. May 10 at Vintage Italian Pizza.
"A lot of people here still remember him," said Tom Borich, a retired Superior High School teacher who's organizing the event.
The night includes free beer sampling, with donations accepted, a live auction and a murder-mystery dinner theater, "Barley, Brew & Burglary."
"It will be a fun, fun evening for a good cause," said Borich, who taught Rogers in his senior social studies class and has kept in touch over the years.
Rogers graduated from Superior High School in 2000 and works as an assistant athletic trainer for the Chicago Bears. Thanks to his football contacts, auction items will include a jersey autographed by Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, a football autographed by Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and a helmet signed by Eddie Jackson, an all-pro safety with the Bears.
Borich encouraged everyone to attend the event and support the family.
"No family should have to go through the things he's told me about," Borich said.
Charlotte was diagnosed with leukemia June 1, 2017. She was 8 months old.
"The next 36 days were a blur," Rogers wrote on his fundraising site. "We moved into the Ronald McDonald House just down the street from the hospital while Charlotte was in hospice for 30 of those days receiving intense chemotherapy and blood and platelet transfusions."
With her cancer in remission, Charlotte had two more years of treatment to tackle.
"She has faced multiple surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy and transfusions, all while keeping a beautiful smile on her face," Rogers said.
She is currently set to "ring the bell," which signals the end of chemotherapy treatment, June 8.
Every three minutes, someone in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and more than a third of them will not survive five years after their diagnosis.
The "Man and Woman of the Year Campaign" isn't about a title. It's Rogers' 10-week effort to raise funds for blood cancer research and patient support.
"He wants to help out any family going through what they've gone through," Borich said.
Call 218-591-3362, email tborich//pages.mwoy.org/il/chicago19/wrogers for more information.