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Community rallies to the cause to support Antioch mom who’s fighting cancer

LindMennart (left) Howard Schnitzer are both from Lake Villthey ran race pink support DeanCase who has breast cancer. | TinJohansson~for

Linda Mennart (left) and Howard Schnitzer are both from Lake Villa, and they ran the race in pink in support of Deana Case, who has breast cancer. | Tina Johansson~for Sun-Times Media

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TO VISIT — This is where Deana Case talks/writes about how she is doing with her battle against cancer. — This is the Facebook page set up as home base for donations for expenses incurred by Deana Case and her family as she battles cancer.

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Updated: September 27, 2013 2:40AM

Deana Case, a breast cancer patient, didn’t know she had so many friends and supporters — some she had never met before — until they showed up Saturday for a fundraising road run at Loffredo Park in Lake Villa.

For starters, the clerks at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Antioch’s Walmart donated a whole month of tips to help pay for her rising medical bills, according to Karrol Williams, an organizer of the race titled, “No One Fights Cancer Alone.”

Deana of Antioch, mother of six children, was diagnosed to have late-stage breast cancer last Dec. 18. Doctors found her cancer has spread to her liver and bones. She is under treatment at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

For those who have known her, they felt duty-bound to lend a helping hand. Jennifer Grabot of Pleasant Prairie was one of them. She came to join the 3.1-mile race with her 7-year-old daughter Sarah. Jennier and Deana have known each other since they were second-graders.

“We came here strictly for Deana,” she said after completing the race on the sunny morning, tired but happy.

“You look beautiful,” she said to Deana who was standing at the finishing line, greeting those completing the race.

“This is awesome. I feel humbled,” said a gracious Deana who was, until she was stricken with cancer, a photographer with her own studio called “Inspiring Images.”

Those participating in the event either ran or jogged. Others walked.

Debbie Foerster, a friend and formerly of Antioch who now lives in Estero, Fla., finished the race in 28 minutes.

“It’s awesome there are so many people who care for her,” she said, mentioning she had come back for her daughter’s wedding when she heard about the fundraiser and decided to help out.

The 169 participants each paid $30 for registration and many also gave donations, according to Williams, an organizer who has known Deana for 29 years. They went to Antioch High School together, graduating in 1987. Funds raised from this event will go toward an overall goal of raising $25,000 to help the family.

Howard Schnitzer of Lake Villa wore pink to show his support. He said before the race he called Dennis Bergl of Antioch to challenge him to wear pink in the race. He also told him he had pledged $100 for the cause. Bergl accepted gallantly.

Bergl’s wife, Donna, also put information about the fundraiser on Facebook. As a result, $1,500 was raised. Donna, a coordinator of the race, has known Deana for 20 years and is the godmother of two of her six children.

“I feel masculine wearing pink,” joked Schnitzer, owner of A&S Auto Sales on Grand in Waukegan as he walked around to show off his color.

Gavin Achtemeier, 16, who will be junior at Grayslake Central High School, won the race, finishing it in 20 minutes.

“It hurt,” he said, pointing to his legs as he munched on a raisin bagel.

Sitting by his side was his mother, Karen, who finished the race in 25 minutes. Her daughter, Riley, 14, also participated but she, according to her brother, walked. The Achtemeiers did not know Deana. They joined, they said, “to support the cause.”

Deana’s husband, Scott, and son Sawyer, 14, also raced.

“I love her and I hope she’ll recover and live a long, nice, normal life,” said Sawyer, who will be a freshman at Antioch High School.

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