Putting the “Fun” in Fundraiser: Carnival of Caring

It’s what friends do for each other.

When Lincolnshire resident Kate Arnold, a wife and mother of two young girls, learned her Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma had returned, a circle of more than 30 friends rallied to her side.

Laurie Gens, a Buffalo Grove resident and close friend, wanted to make a big difference for Arnold and her family.

With plans to pass on her lifelong passion for philanthropy to her own children already in the works, it was her oldest daughter, Rachel, who suggested they hold a fundraising carnival for Arnold.

“That’s how it came about,” says Gens. “Kate’s diagnosis hit me really hard because she’s a very close friend, but I know that we can’t just sit here and do nothing.”

And so the Carnival of Caring was born. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) fundraiser is set for this Saturday at the Libertyville Sports Complex. The event will feature a wide variety of family-friendly activities for kids of all ages.

The carnival has been a family affair, not just for Gens and her kids, but for the Arnolds as well–in fact, Kate’s daughters Elizabeth and Josie are honorary chairs of the Kids’ Committee, pictured above (Rachel G., Erica S., Josie & Elizabeth Arnold, Ella P. and Angelina C.) The committee also includes Annie Armgardt, Eli Gens, Carly Schechtman and Sami Kieffer.

“I was floored when Laurie approached me with the idea for the Carnival and I am overwhelmed by the number of friends who have worked so hard to make it a success,” says Arnold.

“The support of my family, friends and community has given me strength during the times I have felt like I was going over the edge.”

Gens says the kids’ active participation is exciting to witness. “We went to (a District 103) event to pass out fliers about the carnival, and it was so neat to see Elizabeth get so excited and have a great thing come out of what’s going on with her mom.”

Kids’ Committee members are taking a very active role, not just in planning, but also in volunteering at the event. When given the option not to have to work that day, Gens says each of the girls signed up to volunteer.

“Every one of those girls signed up,” she says. “They really understand the importance of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Kate’s husband Charlie will also benefit from the event, as the money raised for LLS at the event will be channeled directly through him and his Team In Training fundraising.

And Kate? She’s currently awaiting approval for a door stem cell transplant–a procedure that will take her to Texas and away from home for four months. Something moms in perfect health can hardly grasp, let alone one grappling with serious illness.

So she’s focusing on this weekend, and the carnival. “I sincerely hope that the attendees of the Carnival of Caring go home with a huge smile from having such a great time with their families and that they feel good about supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.”