Cancer fundraiser gets personal

JOHNSBURG – When Craig Wallace and some friends decided to start Walla-Pa-Looza, they thought that it was a clever way to transform Wallace’s annual summer bash into a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

But just days before the debut event, organizers learned some bad news: Zakary Woods, the 15-year-old stepson of one of event’s organizers, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“It’s almost surreal,” said Wallace of Johnsburg. “This was supposed to be fun. ... Now it’s gotten more serious.”

Woods is the stepson of Nick Bionda, an event co-chairman, and a student at McHenry West High School. He and his family spent Wednesday afternoon visiting an oncologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

Meanwhile, event organizers felt an even stronger urge to raise money at the event Saturday.

“We’re trying to be positive,” Wallace said. “Now we have a more important reason to do this.”

Beyond donating to the American Cancer Society, organizers will give a portion of funds raised Saturday to the Bionda/Woods family to help with medical payments.

The event will be from 2 to 11 p.m. at the Johnsburg Community Club, 2315 Church St. There will be food available to buy, live music, a silent auction, raffles and a business expo. There also will be inflatable bounce houses for children, face-painting and temporary tattoos.

Live music will start at 2 p.m. with a performance by Blush, a local band. Three other local bands will play throughout the event: Peter and the Versatiles, Danny and the Devils, and Always Frantic, the band that played during the McHenry fireworks show this month.

About 4 p.m. John Rupp, the grandfather of McHenry toddler Jackson Grabow, will give a short talk.

A 50-50 raffle also will take place in which event-goers can buy tickets, and one winner will take home half of the pot at the end of the night.

A $5 fee will be requested for admission.

For information or to make a donation, visit www.walla-

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