I’m sure everyone can relate to the expression “when it rains it pours.” Well, on the personal side of my life, it has been pouring buckets for the last six months. Even though it’s been really rough, I am not writing this to gain sympathy from my customers, employees and friends. It’s more to share my thoughts of love, admiration and concern for my family members and close friends who have all been faced with major life challenges in the last six months. The last several months have in many ways changed my perspective on life.
The rain storm started last December. My close friend and long-time employee, Mark Allender, was involved in a horrendous car accident. I call him “Miracle Man”. His injuries are too numerous to mention. It was his second near death experience. He is still recuperating and has a long road ahead of him. His story is amazing and inspirational. Mark has a positive attitude and a spiritual outlook on life.
Within a day or two of Mark's accident, my sister Jill, or “Saint Jill” as I think of her, was diagnosed with Stage 4, Small Cell Lung Cancer. Jill is a very giving and caring person. She has pretty much dedicated her life to helping other people. She’s worked for various non-profit organizations for many years. She is active in her church and many volunteer organizations. She’s going through hell, but continues to be strong and maintains a positive, spiritual outlook on life. I have tremendous admiration for her and her husband Michael. I am proud of my sister and I love my sister.
A couple of months ago, my daughter-in-law Amanda was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Amanda and Blake were just married this past September. Amanda has started chemo treatments this week. Amanda is beautiful inside and out. She’s also very strong and well grounded. I am also super proud of her husband and my son, Blake. He’s been amazing with Amanda in many ways. They are both inspirational. I love them both dearly. I know Amanda and Blake will be an inspiration to many people as they go through this experience.
In this same time period, my wife’s sister, Sherrie Fazekas, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s been going through chemotherapy and the accompanying side effects for the last few months. Like Amanda and Jill, she is strong and resilient. She shares her story with friends and family. Sherrie is supported by strong faith and a positive attitude. She is a good role model for people who are facing similar challenges.
Last but not least, is my dear friend and longtime neighbor, Kim Craig. Kim passed away June 3rd after a 10 year battle with cancer. You have to be strong to fight cancer for 10 years and Kim was. I rarely saw her in a bad mood, she kept on carrying on despite severe pain and numerous chemo and radiation treatments. She even continued to work up until the last few weeks of her life. One of the last things Kim said to me from her hospital bed was “How’s your sister Jill?” That was Kim, strong, caring and giving.
All wonderful and courageous people whose lives I am honored to be part of. There stories have changed me in many ways.
Moving forward, WRIGLEY'S will continue to financially contribute to the cause of fighting cancer. Cancer is no longer something lurking in the background. Cancer is now touching all of us in one way or another.