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updated: 7/13/2016 11:06 AM

Mount Prospect woman's Lemons of Love brings relief to cancer patients

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  • Race car driver Sarah Montgomery, left, and Jill Swanson Peltier, right, deliver a Lemons of Love bag to a cancer patient at an oncology center in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Montgomery is from.

    Race car driver Sarah Montgomery, left, and Jill Swanson Peltier, right, deliver a Lemons of Love bag to a cancer patient at an oncology center in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Montgomery is from.
    Courtesy of Jill Swanson Peltier

  • A Lemons of Love bag filled with things someone undergoing chemo might find useful.

    A Lemons of Love bag filled with things someone undergoing chemo might find useful.
    Courtesy of Jill Swanson Peltier

 

Jill Swanson Peltier of Mount Prospect is the ultimate multi-tasker.

Late last week she returned from distributing care packages to a cancer center in Evanston, before jumping back into being president of a Des Plaines company that manufactures products for the motor sport community.

In her spare time, she helps organize fundraisers for the nonprofit organization that compiles these care packages, Lemons of Love.

All this, and Peltier is a cancer survivor as well.

"It's one of those crazy twists in life," Peltier said on Friday during a rare break in her day. "I never dreamed that I would be doing this and that (Lemons of Love) would take off like it has."

She already had a successful business. Peltier owns Fresh Air Systems Technologies, which makes cool suits for race car drivers and specialized helmets that bring fresh air to drivers instead of dirt.

The company's products are used by drivers in the NASCAR and Formula 1 series, to monster jam truck drivers and even stunt men on movie sets.

Peltier's new lease on life goes back to 2014, when she went through six months of chemotherapy for colon cancer. She began assembling care packages -- designed to promote peace and healing -- for other patients going through treatment with her.

Peltier started by giving them lemon drops to help take away the metallic taste the chemo leaves in their mouths. The care packages grew to include lotion for dry skin, dark chocolate with the antioxidants and heart-healthy fats, organic ginger tea for upset stomachs, superhero socks, a water bottle, lip balm, and a note of encouragement.

"When I was done with my treatment, people encouraged me to keep going," Peltier says.

Many of her customers in the motor sport community donated to help pay for more packages. Consequently, over the last two years, Peltier and her volunteers have distributed 2,000 packages, and they're not done yet.

Peltier and her Lemons of Love supporters are throwing their first golf outing, "Lemons on the Link," July 22 at Chevy Chase Golf Course in Wheeling. The proceeds will help meet their goal of 3,000 care packages for hospitals and cancer centers.

The outing begins at 11:30 a.m. with a putting contest and the chance to peruse some luxury cars on display. There also will be a photo opportunity with Lemons of Love race car driver Sarah Montgomery.

A helicopter ball drop will signal the 1:30 p.m. shotgun start. The day on the course is followed by an evening reception in Chevy Chase's historic clubhouse.

Because of Peltier's unique business relationship with the motor sport community, and specifically endurance racers, she drew the sponsorship of AutoNation, the largest auto retailer in the U.S., as the event's title sponsor.

Seven of its dealerships are participating and raising money, including AutoNation Honda and AutoNation Hyundai dealers in Des Plaines, as well as Laurel BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi of Westmont.

"We're well on our way to reaching our goal," Peltier says "because of the generous sponsors of this outing."

Oddly enough, as many things as Peltier can do, there is one thing she hasn't mastered: golf. Look for her at the outing -- just not out on the course.

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