Kayla Juan, a 5-year-old girl from Geneva, is working to regain her strength in Chicago as Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez and his wife, Terrie, are leading an effort to raise money for her medical expenses.
“I was really touched,” the girl’s mother, Cindy Juan, said of the Perez’s efforts to organize a fundraiser for Kayla, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor June 2013. “I did not expect it.”
The fundraiser is to be from 5:30 to 11 p.m. today at Luigi’s Pizza & Fun Center, 732 Prairie St., Aurora, and will feature a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction where bidders do not need to be present to win such prizes as Easter baskets, gas cards and car washes, Terrie Perez said.
The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children and includes pizza, pasta and drinks.
Although Juan will be spending tonight with Kayla, she said her husband, Lexter, and daughters Sarah, 9, and Natalie, 4, will be there.
Kayla is receiving physical and occupational therapy at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago after spending weeks at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, her mother said.
She described her daughter – who underwent surgery within a day of being diagnosed with medulloblastoma in June 2013 – as strong.
“Kayla is just a fighter, a strong, brave girl,” Juan said.
Terrie Perez, who works with Juan at Rush-Copley Medical Center, said it was heart-wrenching to know that her co-worker’s daughter was going through such an illness. It’s sad when anybody gets cancer, she said, but it’s even sadder when it happens to children.
“They haven’t even had a chance to live life,” Terrie Perez said, “and then they’re having to deal with this.”
Terrie Perez said she didn’t hesitate to help Juan.
“Who wouldn’t?” she said. “She’s such a great person and deserves the help.”
The fundraiser has gotten a good response so far, Terrie Perez said, adding she is hoping for a turnout of at least 150 people. She said the money raised today can be applied however the Juan family chooses.
Juan said her family is thinking of donating a portion to Ronald McDonald House because they are staying at one of its facilities.
“I can’t imagine going through what we’re going through without Ronald McDonald,” Juan said.
Donations to the Juan family also may be made at any Old Second Bank in the Kayla Juan Fund.
If you go
What: Fundraiser for Kayla
Where: Luigi’s Pizza & Fun Center, 732 Prairie St., Aurora
When: 5:30 to 11 p.m. today
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children