Liam was born on May 24, 2005 at the time, his sister Sam was 3 years old. Liam was a great baby, with bright, blue eyes and and the most beautiful smile anyone has ever seen! Liam's first year of life was very typical, although he had suffered many more ear infections than his sister. By 6 months old, he would recover from an ear infection and then literally be diagnosed again shortly after. He had tubes put in his ears and adnoids removed and that seemed to do the trick...temporarily. By the time Liam was 15 months old he continued to be sick and one instance Lynda took him to the doctor and had told them he seemed lethargic and she requested they take is O2 saturation. It ends up, his sats were in the high 80s and he was immediately admitted to Central DuPage hospital. Again, he was diagnosed with just another illness, received breathing treatments and was recovering pretty well. Liam had been in the hospital for a couple of days and he was due to be released so, his dad returned to work. Liam just had 2 tests left before he was to go home, a swallow test and a CT Scan. The swallow test did not go well. He was very upset and he ended up failing the test. He then went to the CT Scan. Oh, he didn't want this done and he was miserable. Lynda was so upset she asked her parents to come to the hospital to be with them. They did so, and she is so thankful, because shortly after they arrived the doctor came in to tell them all that they found a tumor in Liam's brainstem. Words can't describe the absolute devastation and helplessness of the situation. CDH asked what hospital they wanted to transfer to... Northwestern or University of Chicago. They had no idea and were still stunned by the news. Luckily Lynda's sister in law is a doctor in CO and they were able to call her for advice. She let them know that they were very fortunate to live in Chicago and that we couldn't go wrong with either hospital. They chose University of Chicago. Liam's dad left work and ended up riding with Liam in the ambulance to Chicago. Lynda's brother, Mitch, brought her home so she could shower and pack. Little did she know, she would not return to their house for 3 months. Lynda packed our bags and she'll never forget sitting in the bathtub for what seemed like forever, crying like she's never cried before while the shower poured on her. Mitch brought me to UofC late that night.
The next day, the social worker at the hospital told them about the Ronald McDonald Parent's Room at the hospital. It was a quiet, private area for parent's like them. They went there a couple of times but rarely wanted to leave Liam's room. Unfortunately, this was the Friday before Labor Day weekend and there was a lot of waiting in their future. The following week, the Neurosurgeon informed the family that he could operate on the tumor since the tumor had penetrated part of Liam's brain stem. It would be a risky surgery but the surgeon felt confident he could carve out some of the tumor by operating through the tumor. The social worker had now returned to talk to them about the Ronald McDonald House. At this time, the house was right across the parking lot. Everything was so overwhelming, they didn't know what to do or to think. They went to the house, the volunteers who checked them in were the most wonderful people. They didn't ask questions, they were just there to help. They got them a room and showed them around. The house that they stayed at is since gone. At the time, they had a private room with a bed and a desk. They shared the bathroom with the others on the floor. One floor up was the washer and dryer and there was a small shared kitchen and each family had a cabinet space. At this point, they knew they were there for a while. Sam was in preschool at the time and eventually came to live with them at RMH. The family enjoyed meals cooked by volunteers. After eating out for every meal, it felt so good to have a home cooked meal with VEGETABLES. Even when they had late nights at the hospital, leftovers were waiting in the fridge. RMH even had a shuttle to take them to the grocery store so they could make meals for themselves. Sam enjoyed the play room when they were at the house as well. As Liam recovered from surgery, he was transferred to a rehab hospital and the family continued their stay at RMH. They lived there for 3 months and were sent home right before Thanksgiving.
Liam had his challenges over the next year and unfortunately, he lost his battle in October of 2008. Lynda wanted to give back to this wonderful charity but at this time, she couldn't step foot into another RMH. As the healing process began, Lynda started running as a sort of therapy. In 2014, Lynda ran her first Chicago Marathon. At that time, she ran with a charity that sent kids with cancer to summer camp. When running that race, Lynda saw that RMHC had a charity team. The next year, Lynda ran the marathon solo for RMHC. In 2016, she was encouraged by one of my running buddies to create a team for Liam. THIS was her way to give back and to keep Liam's story alive! Lynda created Liam's Ladies (at that time, we only had females on our team). In total, Liam's Ladies and Gents have raised over $250k for RMHC over the years. Let's make this over $300k in 2024!!!
Thank you for keeping Liam's memory alive and raising money for this absolutely incredible charity that has helped so many families like Lynda's!