MOUNT GREENWOOD — Emily Beazley's birthday was Sunday, but the celebration honoring the Mount Greenwood girl who invited the world into her life as she bravely battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma will have to wait a bit.
"Her birthday hits me the hardest. She would have been 14," her mother Nadia Beazley said Friday. "She didn't get to be a teenager, and that's all she ever wanted."
Emily Beazley's Kures for Kids Family Fair will be from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday at Marist High School in Mount Greenwood. It is free to attend the event at 4200 W. 115th St. Wristbands will be sold for $10 for children who want to jump in the inflatable bounce houses. Family passes cost $30.
Emily Beazley, 12, died May 18, 2015, after a four-year battle with blood cancer. Along the way, Nadia Beazley updated friends and family on her daughter's heartbreaking condition. Those in the neighborhood and elsewhere responded with an outpouring of support.
Ribbons of green and purple meant to support Emily and raise awareness about childhood cancer soon decorated street poles and trees throughout the Southwest Side. Homes and businesses also strung lights of the same colors in what became known as the Light It Up for Emily campaign.
Oncologists discontinued chemotherapy about a month before Emily died and though her outlook was grim, Emily kept fighting. She was convinced she would beat the odds, and those touched by her courage worked to change the color of the Chicago skyline.
Soldier Field, the Willis Tower and other landmarks all became were adorned with purple and green lights. Emily was also made the governor of Illinois for a day and had the street outside her home named in her honor. Emily was even named an honorary police officer as a nod to her father, Ed, a 20-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.
One of the best days was April 29, 2015 when Emily received a call from pop singer Taylor Swift. Friends and supporters successfully reached out to Swift via social media in the hopes she might call her struggling fan.
After her daughter died, Nadia Beazley along with friends and family who'd become known as Emily's Entourage sought to harness the momentum to raise money for other children stricken with cancer.
Their first kids fair was held last September at the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in Mount Greenwood. Beazley said the event raised some $65,000 through raffles, carnival games, T-shirt sales and other efforts.
"I have amazing friends and without them we couldn't do it," she said.
Nearly one year later, Kures for Kids has raised a total of $100,000 for The Cure It Foundation, a non-profit group that raises money to fund pediatric cancer research. The goal is to raise $250,000 or more to fund a second trial of an promising new treatment option, Beazley said.
"Emily laid this all out. It is nothing that Ed and I have done," she said.
Indeed, Emily sketched the logo now used by the foundation that bares her name. She also told her parents that she dreamed of someday helping other children also battling cancer of all types.
Thus, the group continues to work closely with Dr. Jason Canner, a pediatric oncologist at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in suburban Oak Lawn. He launched The Cure It Foundation and worked directly with Emily as she battled the deadly disease.
As for the move to Marist, Nadia Beazley said the venue change was made strictly because of the threat of inclement weather. She said the Ag School was a wonderful host, but the gyms at Marist can better accommodate the crowd if it rains.
If the weather cooperates, the event will be outside in the grassy area just north of the school buildings, between Marist's football and soccer fields, she said.
"I am hoping for beautiful weather. I am hoping for a smooth running day, and anything that comes after that is a plus," Nadia Beazley said.
She added that Marist's gym was also the site of a special prom that was held for Emily in her final days. All of the sixth-grade students at Mount Greenwood Elementary School gathered for the dance held under the theme, "Wish Upon A Star."
"She said it was the best night of her life, and she was prom queen," Beazley said.
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