CROWN POINT | Kids and those who are kids at heart flocked to the Lake County Fairgrounds in superhero costumes to fight the villain that is pediatric cancer.
The inaugural Kids in Capes Fun Walk/Run brought together more than 500 people of all ages who signed up to participate in the superhero-themed event to benefit the Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation said Donna Criner, co-founder and executive director of NICK.
Among Saturday's organizers, sponsors and food vendors were Tim Fealy of Hometown Happenings, the city of Lake Station, Carriage Court Pizza of Crown Point, the St. John Target store, Whole Foods and Culver’s.
NICK Foundation offers financial assistance to families who have children with cancer, providing home cleaning during long hospital stays and assisting with travel arrangements should treatment choices take the family to another state.
It was founded by Criner and her daughter, Katie Perschon, in 2009, two years after then 2½-year-old Drew Perschon was diagnosed with a type of childhood solid cancer tumor of the nerve cells called neuroblastoma.
Drew attended the event dressed as Superman – a favorite costume for many participants.
“We’re here because this is a good cause,” said Nick Pressman, of St. John, who was a high school classmate of Katie Criner Pershon.
The entire Pressman household came out for the event. Dressed as Batman, 4-year old Ben said he was “fighting the bad guys,” while his mom Shannon snuggled 2-month old sister Amelia in a baby carrier.
Jennie and Ben Walters family of Schererville lived the journey of pediatric cancer. Their 7-year old son, Noah, was born with retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer that usually develops in early childhood, typically before the age of 5.
“We want to have a fun day and support all of our local heroes,” said Jennie Walters.
The Walters’ neighbors, Edgar and Norma Santiago, kept 7-year old Julian and 5-year old Michael entertained before the walk began. Both boys were outfitted as Superman.
“My heart goes out to those who have children with this disease,” Norma Santiago said. “The Walters have helped us realize how fortunate we are. It helps us appreciate what we have.”
Jennie-Marie Wichmann, of Chicago, said her parents, Martha and Joe Coakley, of Lowell, suggested she bring her 9-year old son, Charlie, and his 6-year old cousin Elizabeth Coates, to the event.
Dressed in a purple wizard’s costume, Charlie, was “armed” with a snake staff to “fight villians.” Elizabeth said her pink and red caped costume represented a fire mage, complete with a sparkling “fire flower” in her hair.
Costumers for a Cause, a contingent of adults from all over Illinois and Indiana, arrived dressed as heroes and villains from comic books, movies, video games and mythology. They were a big hit with the younger set, who gathered around for photos.
“Our cause is fighting children’s cancer,” said Nate Smith of Yorkville, Ill., who portrayed a Sith Lord from Star Wars.
Political figures also lent their support to Saturday’s fight against pediatric cancer.
Lake County Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, sent the superheroes off on their six-station walk/run with a responding "Go out there and go get 'em!"
Keith Soderquist, mayor of Lake Station, said his community was firmly behind the effort and was the first to sign a proclamation declaring September as Childhood Cancer Month.