Aly Hiles Fund benefit at Darien West Park Sept. 30

By Donna Lenz Wright/The Week

(Published Sept. 18, 2006, 8:38 a.m.)

Just last month, Judy Thillemann of Delavan began contacting friends to organize a fund-raising event to help her daughter and granddaughter.

Judy's granddaughter, Aly Hiles, 16, is battling rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that occurs nearly exclusively in infants, children and teens.

In the short time between however, Judy herself was diagnosed with, then succumbed to cancer.

Doctors discovered leukemia, and a few days later, she was gone.

So friends and family, fulfilling Judy's wishes, have organized the benefit she began. It is set for Saturday, Sept. 30 at Darien West Park beginning at noon. Darien Township has graciously donated the space without fee.

Aly was diagnosed just before Christmas last year, said her mother, Ivy Thillemann of Delavan.

"We found a lump in Aly's hand in November (2005) and went and got it checked," she said. "We thought it was a benign tumor and had the surgery to have it removed."

After surgery, the tumor was analyzed and found to be cancerous.

"We found out it was cancer a week before Christmas and they immediately had us come to the UW and start chemo," Thillemann continued. "And that's also when they found tumors in her right leg, left hip and on her tailbone." Aly is being treated at UW-Madison Hospital.

Over 85 percent of rhabdomyosarcomas occur in infants, children, and teenagers, and 90 percent in people under 25, according to the American Cancer Society. It accounts for about 3 percent of all childhood cancers with about 350 new cases being diagnosed each year in the United States.

It's a tricky cancer to treat, and Hiles has been on chemotherapy and radiation treatments since being diagnosed.

Since then, their lives have been a series of painful illnesses for Aly, trips to Madison for treatment, at least one four-to-seven-day stay in the hospital each month and much missed work for Thillemann.

Thillemann is a self-employed hairdresser at Creative Xpressions in Lake Geneva.

Though most of the medical expenses are covered through Thillemann's insurance, the outstanding balances for procedures and prescriptions not covered are cumulating rapidly.

And typically, missed or partial paychecks quickly lead to back bills, angry service providers and outrageous late fees.

"I would never have asked for something like this," she said. "But it's nice that people are getting together to do this.

"It sure will help."

Assistance for families gainfully employed with a seriously ill family member is hard to find.

It's hard to figure out what to do, Thillemann said.

That's where Saturday's fundraiser comes in.

Two popular area bands have volunteered to perform beginning at noon with the Bartabs followed by Doomsday on Broadway at 2:30 p.m.

Other activities include a pig roast potluck lunch, raffles with prizes including - but not limited to - one-hour massages by Tonya Fried of Back to Eden Retreats in Walworth; a three-hour home cleaning package from Sue Gilmore of Prestige Domestic Services; tattoos by Digger of Digger's Den, Elkhorn; motorcycle rides and a free performance by Doomsday on Broadway at your chosen location and date.

Free haircuts and styles with a donation to Locks of Love and/or the Aly Hiles Fund will also take place at the event, compliments of Janet Ritchie and Lori Deschner. Locks of Love is an organization that creates hairpieces and wigs for chemotherapy patients. For details and requirements, visit There will also be information provided at the event.

Anyone interested in donating to the Aly Hiles Fund may mail a donation to Creative Xpressions, ATTN: Ivy Thillemann, 750 Veterans Parkway, Suite. 105, Lake Geneva, WI 53147 or call 248-4333. Event questions can be e-mailed to

Aly Hiles Fund Event

Noon-The Bartabs

1 p.m.-Pig roast potluck lunch $10 suggested donation for all you can eat. Dishes-to-pass are welcomed. Special thanks to Sorg's Farm Packing Inc., Darien.

2:30 p.m.-Doomsday on Broadway

All day-Bake sale (donations welcome)

All day-motorcycle rides with donation

All day-Tattoos by Digger of Digger's Den, Elkhorn, with 50 percent of the proceeds donated to the Aly Hiles Fund

All day-Free haircuts and styles by Janet Ritchie and Lori Deschner with donation to Locks of Love and/or Aly Hiles Fund

All day-Raffles with prizes including massages, house cleaning, haircuts and styles, tattoos and much more.

All day-Musicians are welcome to bring their instruments and play between and after bands.




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