St. Charles contractor to award new roof to breast cancer survivor

  • Breast cancer survivor Joella McWilliams with her son, Gary Paris of Atlas General Contractors in St. Charles. In honor of his mother's long fight against cancer, Paris is conducting an annual replacement roof giveaway for a cancer survivor facing financial hardships.

    Breast cancer survivor Joella McWilliams with her son, Gary Paris of Atlas General Contractors in St. Charles. In honor of his mother's long fight against cancer, Paris is conducting an annual replacement roof giveaway for a cancer survivor facing financial hardships. Courtesy of Atlas General Contractors

Posted2/9/2020 7:25 AM

After watching his mother deal with various forms of breast cancer over 22 years, Gary Paris had another thought in mind beyond helping his mother get through difficult emotional times.

He sensed if this were to happen to a family that may already be facing hard times, or the fight against cancer created major financial burdens, it could be devastating.


As the owner of Atlas General Contractors in St. Charles, Paris figured there had to be a breast cancer survivor in the area who could use help.

In honor of his mother, Joella McWilliams, he chose to donate a roof replacement annually for a worthy candidate.

To trigger this effort, Atlas is accepting submissions on its website for the "Breast Cancer Warrior Roof Giveaway" from those who want to nominate a cancer survivor and tell their story.

McWilliams will read the nominations and select a winner of a new roof each October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

McWilliams was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997 when she was a 39-year-old nurse and mother to four boys. After surgery and chemotherapy, the disease was in remission for nine years.

It resurfaced in 2006 in a lymph node near her clavicle. And again in 2009 in her right femur, 2010 in more lymph nodes, and 2011 in the lining of her lungs. In the last two years, metastatic breast cancer has spread to her lungs, abdomen, bowel, back, spine and skin.

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She's taken eight different chemotherapies, had eight surgeries and four different radiation treatments. She has also tried a holistic approach and an immunotherapy trial.

"While breast cancer has been a large part of my life, it has not been my life," McWilliams noted in a story she wrote for the Atlas General Contractors site about the roof replacement idea. "I do feel blessed to be a survivor this long.

"I feel my battle with cancer has made me a stronger person," she wrote. "And even though we have been through many tough times that I wish had not happened, it has made my sons stronger and our bond stronger." When Gary came up with the idea to help another breast cancer survivor in her honor, she was thrilled with the idea.

And Gary Paris knows how to make something like this happen. "Atlas opened up this location (40W089 Route 64, Suite E) in St. Charles in 2018, and I have been a customer homebuilder, general contractor and roofer since 1998," he said.


Those wanting to nominate a breast cancer survivor can do so at

A change at Oak: Diners who already know the quality they can expect at Oak + Swine in Batavia are quite excited about the quick makeover the restaurant has made.

The restaurant at 107 E. Wilson St. was closed for a few weeks to revamp the interior and set up the bar and seating to give it more of a sit-down restaurant feel than it may have had previously in what one might describe as a "fast-casual" setting.

Regardless of the interior setup, this place has been getting solid reviews for its barbecue and other offerings.

More bikes riding: It's certainly common to see kids riding bikes when spring finally settles in. But if you sense more kids are riding bikes more often, starting in mid-April, there's a chance they are students at one of five Kane County elementary schools participating in the first Kane County Cycle Club program.

In promoting more and safer bike riding, the Kane County Division of Transportation selected those schools to participate in the first year of the program.

The schools chosen were Ronald D. O'Neal Elementary School and Clinton Elementary School, both in South Elgin, H.C. Storm Elementary School and Hoover Wood Elementary School, both in Batavia; and Lily Lake Grade School in Maple Park.

Students at these schools register for the club and then keep track of biking through a log handed out by teachers.

Students can earn prizes by reaching specific goals.

Parents of students who do not own a bike can apply for a donated one when registering the child.

Sort of messy: My comment a couple of weeks ago about how MetroNet was making a mess of our neighborhood in digging up the ground for the cables and power boxes needed for its fiber TV and phone service triggered a few comments.

A couple of readers said the same thing happened in their neighborhoods, and they felt the company left the area "scarred." One even complained that workers left McDonald's scrap on the ground in their work area.

I'm not going to say anything negative about MetroNet's actual service. It has to be sound, or the area cities wouldn't be allowing the company to pitch its tent here. If the price is right, the service is reliable and the rate doesn't double in with the snap of a finger, this company could find a niche quickly. I've never had cable, but I'd even consider it if the price was fair and stayed that way.

The company sent letters around, noting it would make an effort to fix whatever damage it does to lawns and parkways.

More importantly, at the moment, those who monitor the company's image within the area should take notice that they certainly don't want the words "scarred" and "McDonald's scrap" associated with whatever it is they are trying to do.

You have to be better than that, no matter what you are trying to sell.

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