Nov. 18 benefit at McHenry Moose Lodge to benefit local singer John Gacek

JOHNSBURG - Time Machine lead singer John Gacek is thoroughly familiar with being on the giving side of a benefit.

The 52-year-old McHenry man - who's also performed with regionally well-known acts Fade, Mistaken Child, Solid Motion, Woofer and Thunder BOX - has donated his musical talents for an untold number of worthy causes, according to friends who've seen him in action, often at the McHenry Moose Lodge.

So, the fundraising event now being planned in his honor is throwing Gacek a bit. But with his medical debt rising, and the need to tackle making his house handicapped-accessible, he's readying for the role reversal.

"I'm greatly, greatly, greatly appreciative," said the husband, father and grandfather. "It's a hard one, though. While I recognize the need for my friends to help me, I also understand and recognize that there are people out there who need more help than I think I need."

Cherin Krueger is a volunteer at the McHenry Moose Lodge. She and Nathan Grandmason are coordinating the fundraiser for Gacek, she said. The public is invited to attend. The event will feature live music starting at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Moose, 3535 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg. Donations will be requested at the door, and there will be a number of raffles throughout the night. A portion of proceeds from all dinners sold that night also will go to Gacek, Krueger said.

"Anyone who knows John loves John," she said. "He's always willing to help, always there for people, always volunteering at the Moose. It's time for us to help him."

Gacek, who has been married to his wife, Tina, for five years, is battling Stage IV cancer.

A diagnosed diabetic since the 1990s, Gacek was seeing a doctor throughout 2020 for a stubborn foot infection, not uncommon in diabetic patients. The day after Easter in 2021, he got the call that a biopsy taken from the ball of his foot showed that the infection was, in fact, a form of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. Caught early, they're typically superficial and highly treatable. Gacek soon came to learn that his was invasive, and it had metastasized.

"What would have been Stage 1 - go in and get it removed - had spread throughout my body," Gacek said. "Everyone had been treating [the foot infection] as a diabetic ulcer. They didn't consider the fact that since the infection had been there so long and the wound open so long, that it could be cancerous."

After surgery to remove much of his foot in front of the heel, Gacek started chemo. He continues to visit a Crystal Lake oncologist for chemotherapy treatments every three weeks, he said, and the current treatment plan is for that to continue for the foreseeable future.

Employed in cyber security for a Schaumburg area food ingredients manufacturer, Gacek has medical insurance. But he's exceeded his cap for years. The debt grows as his health issues multiply.

"Just this summer I found out that the chemo is killing my kidneys, it's killing my thyroid, and I've had at least one heart attack," he said, speaking from his home office during a recent phone interview.

And yet, Gacek still performs his music as often as he's able. He also still works for his employer, primarily from home. And he's still walking with the help of a prosthetic boot. An optimist and a helper by nature, Gacek's health issues are forcing a level of pragmatism.

"The bad effects are starting to snowball," he acknowledged. "It's possible within a few years I'm going to have to take a step back. And hopefully I won't be scrambling at that point to make the house handicapped accessible. Hopefully all of that will be in place and we'll just be continuing to move forward."

The friends, fellow musicians, volunteers and contributors working together on the Nov. 18 fundraiser hope the evening will go a long way toward making that happen.

If you go

What: Benefit for John Gacek

When: 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18

Where: McHenry Moose Lodge, 3535 N. Richmond Road, Johnsburg

Featuring: Live music, food and drink for purchase, raffles

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