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‘Shopping for Scholarships’ boost plans for childhood cancer survivors

Joyce and Otto Bytof Endowment Fund provides unique educational funding

July 22, 2013

This fall 32 high school seniors from the Fox Valley and other parts of Wisconsin with plans to continue their education will benefit from more $70,000 raised in late June and $70,000 raised in 2012 for a unique scholarship fund.

Last year, 31 graduates attending college or technical school shared just over $58,000 in scholarship awards from money raised in 2011.

The common bond for all recipients: they survived childhood cancer.

Funding for the scholarships comes from the annual ‘Shopping for Scholarships’ event held for the fifth time on June 26 at Lawrence University’s Warch Campus Center. It was the result of a collaboration that started in 2007 between the American Cancer Society’s Youth Scholarship Fund and Fox Cities business leader Joyce Bytof, chairman of the board, Coldwell Banker The Real Estate Group, Inc., who is also battling cancer.

Over the past five years, more than $290,000 has been raised through the Joyce and Otto Bytof Endowment Fund to help fund the educational plans for young people whose normal childhood activities were sidetracked by cancer. A preference is given to students from the Fox Cities and Northeast Wisconsin. Community First Credit Union has been a sponsor of ‘Shopping for Scholarships’ from the outset and some CFCU employees serve on committees that help plan, promote, organize and coordinate the event.

One grateful scholarship recipient is Kyle Schneider, 19, of Cecil, who survived a baseball sized cancerous tumor wrapping itself around part of his brain discovered when he was 2. “The scholarship is greatly appreciated and will help my family while I pursue my dream of a graphic arts career,” said Kyle, who is cancer free but still dealing with the after effects of the strong doses of radiation and two years of chemotherapy he endured, including a recent procedure to help with his speech and swallowing. “It’s a true honor to be recognized by this amazing organization.”

Nationwide about 12,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year, according to the American Cancer Society. But the good news is death rates have dropped significantly and about 80 percent of childhood cancer patients survive.

Still, childhood cancer can also bring a major financial burden to a family and survivors often miss segments of school that reduce their chances of earning any kind of academic or athletic scholarship.

Kristin Klinkner, Midwest division community relations manager, American Cancer Society, said the event was a huge success with 245 in attendance that helped the cause through ticket sales, a raffle, silent and live auctions and more.

“The survival rates for childhood cancer are increasing, which is phenomenal,” said Klinkner. “That does mean that there are more and more students every year who have survived cancer and are now going into college.”