Bear Necessities walk Oct. 22 to raise funds for kids with pediatric cancer

Bear Necessities walk Oct. 22 to raise funds for kids with pediatric cancer

Barrett "Bear" Krupa was just 8 years old when he passed away after a more than five-year battle with Wilms tumor, a rare kidney cancer that mainly affects kids ages 3-4.

To honor his memory, Bear's mother, Kathleen A. Casey of Chicago, started the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. It supports children with cancer being treated at Illinois hospitals and their families.

The foundation's programs help raise money for research to find a cure, counseling to help with the emotional distress of a cancer diagnosis and its Bear Hugs program, which provides the ultimate experiences based on each individual child's interests.

"Bear Necessities provided us with support and hope during such a difficult time. We knew we wanted to save the Bear Hug to celebrate Joey winning the fight," said Angel Clark, mother of Grayslake North High School freshman Joey, who was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma last October and is now cancer-free.

Joey's Bear Hug was a laser tag party with his friends.

"It helped motivate him through some really tough chemo treatments. Bear Necessities provided the bright light at the end of the dark tunnel. We are so grateful," Angel Clark said.

To help raise funds to support the foundation's programs, the 10th Annual Costume "A Walk for the Bear" will take place Sunday, Oct. 22, at Busse Woods, Grove 28, in Rolling Meadows. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk steps off at 10 a.m. Kids who participate are encouraged to dress in costume.

To register for this walk, or to make a donation, visit

"This is an incredibly moving event where kids battling cancer come out to help kids like them," Kathleen Casey said. "My son 'Bear' was born on Halloween, so it was his favorite holiday, and he loved creating costumes. So, we urge everyone to wear a costume for this fun walk. He would be so honored to see all of the families celebrating his memory and making an impact for other children battling this devastating disease."

Casey talks about the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the upcoming walk.

Q: What is Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation?

A: Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation was founded in 1992 by Kathleen A. Casey after losing her son "Bear" to pediatric cancer. Since then, it has supported more than 7,500 children and their families, serving both in-state and out-of-state children who are being treated at Illinois-area hospitals with pediatric oncology departments.

Q: Give a brief overview of what the organization does and who you serve.

A: Bear Necessities is dedicated to supporting pediatric cancer research to ultimately find a cure, while continuing to help patients and their families today by bringing hope and joy to those in need.

Q: How many people do you serve each year?

A: Last year, the organization supported 338 families, provided 274 Bear Hugs and raised over $1 million.

Q: What are some of the programs you offer?

A: Bear Discoveries Program: Since its partnership with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization to support cutting-edge pediatric cancer research, Bear Necessities has contributed $200,000 to the foundation to elevate its mission while combining critical resources to make an even greater impact in the search to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

• Bear Hugs Program: The flagship program provides dream experiences to inspire hope and joy for children to build the strength to cope with their illness. Customized Bear Hugs meet a child's unique needs and interests. Whatever a child's dream, the Bear Necessities team works with a network of friends, donors and volunteers to make it come true.

• Counseling Program: This program helps address the psychological and emotional needs of families affected by childhood cancer. Through its partnership with SamaraCare, critical support is provided to those who have been touched by pediatric cancer by assisting with the cost of counseling for the pediatric cancer patient and their family.

• Hope Education Scholarship: Through a transformational investment in 2022 from Susan Hitch-Zint and her brother David in memory of Susan's son Andrew, the scholarship program is designed to ease the financial and emotional hardships associated with fighting pediatric cancer and to provide the opportunity for young people affected by pediatric cancer to pursue their post-secondary education from an accredited university, college, community college, or vocational-technical school. At least two scholarships are awarded annually, including the Andrew David Zint Memorial Scholarship.

Q: Where do the majority of your funds come from to support your work?

A: Bear Necessities relies on and appreciates the support of individual and corporate donors and participants in Bear Necessities' special events held throughout the year, including "A Walk for the Bear," "Bear Tie Ball," "Golf for the Bear" and third-party events.

Q: Tell us about the upcoming "A Walk for the Bear" on Oct. 22.

A: The 10th annual Costume "A Walk for the Bear" will be held Sunday, Oct. 22, at Busse Woods, Grove 28, in Rolling Meadows. This year's one-mile walk is designed for all ages to participate, with trick-or-treating along the way.

Sponsors include Tony's Italian Deli & Subs, Winston & Strawn and CERA Solutions.

Come dressed as a witch, vampire, fairy princess or any other disguise for a day of "spooktacular" activities, including a DJ, bounce house, face-painting, costume contests and boxed lunch after the walk, courtesy of Mariano's.

"A Walk for the Bear" brings together families and supporters of Bear Necessities in honor of children who are fighting and those who have lost their battle to pediatric cancer. Funds raised will benefit pediatric cancer research grants through Bear Discoveries; customized experiences through Bear Hugs; after-treatment counseling; and Hope Education scholarships, for a brighter future.

"A Walk for the Bear" will happen rain or shine. Halloween costumes are encouraged, and furry friends are welcomed on a leash.

Q: How can readers help your organization?

A: For more information on fundraising opportunities, visit For more information on sponsorships, contact Courtney at Volunteer opportunities are also available.

Q: What else would you like readers to know?

A: Forty-three children are diagnosed with cancer every day, and pediatric cancer remains the leading cause of death from disease among children. Less than 4% of the total federal funding spent on cancer research is directed toward the treatment of children.

For more information on how you can help make a difference in fighting pediatric cancer, visit or Facebook.

Kathleen Casey started the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation in honor of her son, Barrett "Bear" Krupa, who died at the age of 8 from a rare kidney cancer called Wilms tumor. A walk to raise money for the foundation will take place Sunday, Oct. 22. Courtesy of Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation
Twelve-year-old Angela Parial, dressed in costume, is a 2024 Ambassador of Walk for the Bear. She was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a rare brain cancer, in 2016 and has received support from Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Courtesy of Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation
Kathleen Casey Courtesy of Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation

The 10th annual Costume "A Walk for the Bear"

What: A fundraiser for the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation

When: Sunday, Oct. 22

• 9 a.m.: Registration and check-in opens; long-sleeved shirt, water and snacks provided

• 9:45 a.m.: Walker welcome

• 10 a.m.: Walker step-off

• 11 a.m.: Lunch, followed by awards

Where: Busse Woods, Grove 28, in Rolling Meadows

Cost: Registration is $25 for in-person or virtual attendance; free for children younger than 5, cancer patients and survivors.

Register:; day-of registration is also available.

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