When her son lost his battle to neuroblastoma 10 years ago, Sue Staehely pledged she would carry on his legacy of love, compassion and service. Through the work of The Mark Staehely Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Sue has been able to do just that – leaving her mark all around the Division of Hematology, Oncology, Neuro-oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation at Lurie Children’s.
It was Mark’s endless positive attitude and generous spirit that inspired the work of the Foundation. After he was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma in 2000, Mark spent nearly every holiday in the hospital that year. Realizing how difficult it was to be in the hospital over the holidays, he spent the next few years dedicated to collecting toys, movies and video games for patients in order to brighten the season for them.
He taught all those around him that even in the most difficult of circumstances, you can find time to care for others. Sue puts it best when she says “Mark had the holiday spirit 365 days a year.”
Today, Sue keeps Mark’s generous spirit alive through her ongoing support for Lurie Children’s patients and families facing a cancer diagnosis. Through the years, Sue collected more than 800,000 toys for patients, spending hours upon hours in a storage unit during cold Chicago winters to ensure every child on the oncology floors received a customized bag filled with gifts of their liking. Just as Mark would have done, Sue of course made sure every other child in the hospital received gifts as well.