Roselle family's fundraiser for their cancer charity benefits Lake Park senior

After surpassing the goal for their cancer charity fundraiser, the Boeckenhauer family is ready to help another Roselle family.

Jean and Tom Boeckenhauer hosted a fundraiser Aug. 14 for pediatric cancer patients in honor of their late son, Kevin, and raised $23,000 online and from in-person donations at the event - much more than the $10,000 they had anticipated. Kevin died in 2019 at age 23, after he was diagnosed at age 12 with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of pediatric bone cancer.

As a result of the successful fundraiser, the family set up the KRB Giving Program and will donate $5,000 to the family of TJ Kutil.

Kutil, 18, a Lake Park senior, plays catcher on the school's baseball team. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October and is in recovery from treatment.

The Boeckenhauers donated the money to help cover numerous medical expenses for TJ's family, including his recovery, his mother Connie's knee surgery, and his sister Mikayla's recovery from a serious car accident.

Although everyone's recovery has been long, Connie Kutil said TJ has been a symbol of strength for the family.

"He's always been a tough and 'suck-it-up' kind of guy," Connie said. "He would be in recovery but still attend the games and try to show support however he can. We are a very close-knit family and always there for each other."

Jean Boeckenhauer said she felt the lives of TJ and her son Kevin were similar in many ways: Both were diagnosed with cancer at a young age, attended the same high school and were lifeguards at the Seasons Four Pool.

After graduating this year, TJ is now attending Kishwaukee College in Malta, near DeKalb, to study education, and he plans to continue playing baseball. He will need to have scans and blood work every four months for the next five years, his mother said.

TJ lives by himself in an apartment near campus, with items that he received from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including a MacBook, catcher's gear and furniture.

"They both lived similar lives, and we knew that we needed to help," Jean Boeckenhauer said. "We're so happy that he finished treatment and is going off to college. They deserve whatever help they can get."

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