The anatomy of a non-profit
Deb Bertram remembers the moment that nearly changed her life. Her then 14-month-old son had been experiencing discomfort so they booked an appointment at the doctor’s office. The news was disconcerting: His white blood cell count was low. It was consistent with what doctors had seen in cases involving leukemia. The doctor assured her it was simply one of many variables. Nevertheless, the next half an hour after leaving the doctor’s office was unbearable.
“I remember calling the doctor and saying, ‘If you think this is leukemia you need to tell me now,’” Bertram recalls. It turned out her son had pneumonia. “It was such a miniscule drop in the bucket [in comparison to leukemia]. That fear of the possibility is just shaking. For parents it becomes a living nightmare. For 30 minutes I got a glimpse of what it would be like to have my life taken away.”
That memory stays with Bertram, founder and president of the Forever Kids Foundation, a local non-for-profit that partners with several organizations dedicated to pediatric cancer research. Bertram and her friend, Cortney Kinzler, founded Forever Kids in 2013. Bertram talks about that first meeting with Kinzler to discuss how they might do something unique. It didn’t take long. They talked frequently about wanting to help kids battling cancer, something they had seen up close on separate occasions, either through lens of a family friend or through the eyes of a neighbor’s child. They were also shocked to learn that pediatric cancer research is often underfunded — either by way of federal subsidies or private donations.
“It’s really on the shoulders of these families to raise money and it’s a very difficult battle,” says Bertram. “These kids are experiencing treatments that are decades old, and they often have side effects because of the toxins. We hope that in their lifetime there will be better outcomes.”
To improve those outcomes, the Foundation hosts several events during the year to raise money for other organizations, including the Make Your Mark, The Mark Staehely Pediatric Cancer Foundation, which will be the beneficiary of one of Forever Kids’ most popular annual events. In less than two weeks, the Foundation hosts the 3rd Annual FORE! Kids Golf Outing at the Seven Bridges Golf Club (1 Mulligan Drive, Woodridge, IL) on Monday, August 3. Like last year, the event includes 18 holes of golf, dinner and a silent auction to cap off a fun-filled day of good food and entertainment. New this year: a special live performance by Jon Conover following the day’s round.
Forever Kids has extended the registration deadline to accommodate any last-minute sponsors. In just three years, The Forever Kids Foundation has raised more than $15,000 for pediatric cancer research, and this year’s outing will host the most golfers yet. Bertram says that next year’s goal is to take over the course entirely with Forever Kids golfers while adding a few wrinkles to improve annual registration, and grow the organization each year. The next step, says Bertram, is to establish a Board of Directors.
“It’s a learning process for us too. Every other moment is dedicated to making those calls when we can. I bring my kids with me when I have to. Every available moment is really working on the Foundation and working to make people’s live better.”
A partner organization in 2014, Levinson and Stefani is once again a sponsor in 2015, providing our namesake to one of 18 holes available for sponsorship. We hope you’ll join us in the battle against pediatric cancer. The Forever Kids Foundation is currently accepting registration for sponsors, golfers, and dinner guests. For more information on the outing, visit foreverkidsfoundation.org or call (847) 502-6775.
Next up: Mark your calendars for October 24 when the Forever Kids Foundation hosts a zombie scavenger hunt, complete with a two-hour tutorial from professional makeup artists on how to make yourself look extra zombie-ish.