Sisters create fundraiser to be held at Sandwich YMCA

October 13, 2018

SANDWICH – In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, sisters Kelly Thielk and Jennifer Gasek of Sandwich will host a fundraiser Oct 20 at the Sandwich YMCA to raise money for FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. 

The event will begin with an opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m. and a workout session at 9 a.m. After the intense partner workout, there will be raffle prizes and a guest speaker from Aishling Obstetrics who will discuss hereditary cancer and where to be tested for genetic mutations. All event participants will receive a swag bag.

Tickets for the event cost $20 each and can be purchased in advance online on Eventbrite or at the Fox Valley YMCA’s west branch, 707 S. Main St. in Sandwich. Tickets also can be purchased the day of the event. All event proceeds will be given to FORCE.

Thielk, Gasek, their mother and Thielk’s son have all been diagnosed with BRCA1+, a type of genetic mutation that makes them predisposed to multiple cancers, including breast, pancreatic, skin cancers and ovarian cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. As carriers, they have a 50 percent chance of passing the gene on to their children.

To prevent the likely onset of cancer, women often have mastectomies and hysterectomies. In 2013, actress Angelina Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy surgery after discovering she tested positive for the BRCA1+ gene.

Kelly Thielk said that hosting the event began as a fundraiser but quickly turned into a way to educate the public.

“I think people might know about Angelina Jolie’s case, but not the name of the genetic mutation or how important it is to be tested,” Thielk said. “You can get tested and have yearly screenings or preventative surgeries. Having an event that’s both a fundraiser and educational is a great way to get the word out to the community.”

Thielk said that the event’s workout, with people exercising in teams of two to three, is a way to promote fitness and give others support.

“During the workout, you work together, leaning on each other and supporting each other,” Thielk said. “It’s the same with any diagnosis when you have your family and friends there to help you out. This event lets people know that if you do carry the genetic disposition, you can lean on your community.”

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