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Jeanne's Journey for Hope Hosts Benefit for Beau Dowling

By Howard Ludwig | August 8, 2017 8:36am | Updated on August 8, 2017 12:16pm

BEVERLY — Meg and Jim Dowling of Beverly have hosted golf outings and fundraisers for others in need, but the idea of a fundraiser for themselves seemed somehow foreign.

So Meg Dowling said Monday she wants the spotlight at the upcoming benefit for her son, Beau, to be squarely on the organizers — Jeanne's Journey for Hope.

Founded in 2012, the charity is named for the late Jeanne Kurinec of southwest suburban Orland Park, who died after a four-year battle with colon cancer. Her three children founded the charity and have raised $50,000 thus far.

Their latest effort will be from 2-6 p.m. Aug. 26 at Square Celt Ale House and Grill in Orland Park. The fundraiser aims to net $20,000 for the family of 2-year-old Beau Dowling.

"I didn't want it to be Beau's benefit. It is a benefit in honor of their mother, Jeanne," Meg Butler Dowling said Monday.

It costs $50 to attend the fundraiser at 39 Orland Square Drive — just west of the shopping mall. Tickets for the event include food and drinks. Several raffle prizes will also be available.

Gregory Kurinec said Monday he doesn't mind sharing the spotlight with the Dowlings, adding the charity he runs with his brother Jeff and sister Michelle has helped seven families already.

"Beau is this 2½-year-old that is just going through this horrible time in his life," said Kurinec, who added that his mom would be "proud as all get out" of the fundraiser.

Beau Dowling was diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma — a cancer of the nerve cells — Sept. 29. Since his diagnosis, trees and street poles throughout the neighborhood have been decorated with purple and yellow ribbons as a show of support for Beau and his family, who are members of the St. John Fisher Parish.

Beau Dowling was born May 7, 2015 and is the seventh of Meg and Jim Dowling's seven children. He weighed exactly seven pounds when he was born.

The baseball-crazed boy weighed 22 pounds when an eight-pound tumor was found in his abdomen, Meg Dowling said. Initial attempts to remove the tumor were unsuccessful.

Beau went through four rounds of chemotherapy, which shrunk the tumor in half. A second attempt to remove the tumor had better results. But Beau's stubborn illness required two more rounds of chemotherapy as well as two stem cell transplants.

"It was awful. It was living hell," Dowling said of her son's second stem cell treatment.

And while that round of treatment is over, there's still a long road ahead, including 12 rounds of radiation. The first of these treatments took place Monday and will continue daily until the full regimen is complete.

From there, there will be two weeks for recovery before Beau will receive several rounds of antibodies designed to boost his immune system. He'll then move on to a clinical trial with doctors in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Beau will have to take a daily pill and check in with doctors there every three months. And while it all seems daunting at times, Beau's positive attitude has never wavered. In fact, he is often seen practicing his baseball swing in the hallway of the hospital while attached to machines pushing medicine into the port in his arm.

"He's amazing. He is so strong. He is an inspiration to everyone," Dowling said.

It is this same resolve as well as the support of the neighborhood that made the organizers select Beau as their charity recipient, Kurinec said. The charity was actually founded while his mother was still alive, and Michelle signed up to run a half marathon while raising money for the American Cancer Society.

Five years ago, the charity switched gears — donating the money from their fundraisers to local families rather than to the large charity. Kurinec said he thinks about his mom everyday, but the fundraiser is a day to remind others of her lasting impact.

"It's one day a year where her name is front and center," he said.