When my husband Bill and I bought a home in Oak Park in 1987, selecting the community as the place to raise our children, we made the decision for the usual reasons, including good schools, sense of neighborliness, and close access to public transportation. 

Our family certainly thrived in Oak Park, but it is now when we are facing a very difficult time with the health of our son and the medical bills with which he is saddled, that the core goodness of this community is evident. 

Our son Nathan was diagnosed in February 2014 with a very aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis that within 18 months reduced him to walking only with the assistance of leg braces and canes. 

Last October, he received a stem cell transplant at Northwestern that worked! He is now walking without assistance and even lifting weights. However, he had to take out a $125,000 loan to pay for the treatment.

In December, with the Lirong Medical Foundation, we partnered with Carnival Foods on South Oak Park Avenue to raise funds to reduce Nathan’s loan burden. From Dec. 18 to Jan. 31, 10% of all sales are contributed to the Lirong Medical Foundation when the shopper mentions “No MSing Around.”

Currently, just over $7,000 in sales have been recorded, and the momentum is growing to reach our goal of $20,000 in sales (in which case we would get 10% or $2,000 and Carnival would match it with another $2,000).

The Kucera family is overwhelmed. When we started this campaign our hope was simply to raise funds for our son’s cause, but what we have experienced is our community rising up and embracing us. The word has spread through print and social media, local church bulletins, and school mailings. Not just friends and neighbors have committed to spending $50 to $100 at Carnival, but also Oak Parkers whom we have never met want to contribute both to our cause and our community. 

Carnival Grocery is a new business and it is hard to replace our much-loved Pan’s, which fed generations of South Oak Parkers. But Carnival captures the Oak Park community spirit and as a local independent business, is doing what it can to promote our cause. 

We are honored to be a part of the Oak Park community. Oak Park is at its best when its members are facing the worst of times.

“No MSing Around” at Carnival Foods until January 31. Thank you for your love and support! 

Visit www.LirongMF.org for more information and to read about Nathan’s story.

Linda Kucera

Oak Park

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