When Ron Filler (LAS ’70) learned about the groundbreaking research conducted at the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL), he knew he needed to bring his “Filler Effect” – the spirit of giving and mentorship – to support cancer research education.
“My Dad died of lung cancer, and unfortunately, I’ve lost many members of my family this way,” Filler said. “I think very highly of the cancer research at the Cancer Center at Illinois. And I wanted to help support students who want to help save someone else, even if it’s not a cure, but can help alleviate someone’s pain or end suffering, then it’s worth it.”
“My Dad would literally help anyone who didn’t have as much as we had. Not that we had a lot, but he always found a way,” Filler said.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Filler is now providing support for college student and aspiring scientist, Ege Onal, an undergraduate in bioengineering and student in the CCIL’s Cancer Scholars Program.
The Oberg Family
When Tim Oberg (ENGR,87′) was diagnosed with aggressive tongue cancer (squamous-cell carcinoma) in Feb. 2019, even through the doctor’s visits, cancer treatments, and surgeries, his love of Illinois never diminished. During Tim’s battle, the Oberg family created and started selling orange and blue “Team Tim” bracelets. They hadn’t forgotten their summer visit to the Cancer Center at Illinois in Urbana, and they decided to donate all proceeds raised to the center in support of cancer research – just as Tim would have wanted.
“My Dad said that he did not want any of the money we raised to go to him. He knew he wanted to donate it somewhere else, and when he found out about the Cancer Center at Illinois, he knew that is where the money should go,” said Josh Oberg, Tim’s son. “He knew that if anyone was going to find a cure for cancer it would be the researchers from the Cancer Center on the Urbana-Champaign campus.”
The Illini 4000 is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the cancer patient experience and raising funds for cancer research. In 2019, the Cancer Center at Illinois and the Illini 4000 established an official partnership, and the organization has been an annual major supporter of Illinois cancer research.
“Our organization has identified several beneficiaries that we believe are doing the most meaningful work in researching cancer treatments and supporting those affected by the disease. These beneficiaries, both local and national, help us put our fundraising dollars to work and we’re excited to work with them to make a significant impact on the fight against cancer.”
Prairie Dragon Paddlers
Annually, the Prairie Dragon Paddlers, Illinois’ first breast cancer survivor dragon boat team, has raised major gifts for the Cancer Center at Illinois. The Prairie Dragon Paddlers Breast Cancer Research Fund, the first named fund at the Cancer Center at Illinois, was initiated in 2018 through fundraising. The Prairie Dragon Paddlers provide education and support to local breast cancer survivors and raise money for research.
“Cancer research is important because it will find better treatments and therapies, improving cancer survivor rates,” said Christel Seyfert, team member and breast cancer survivor.
Kristine Neuhoff Twyman Breast Cancer Research Scholarship
Kristine Neuhoff Twyman (LAS ’89) lost her battle with breast cancer and as a way to honor her memory, her husband Scott established a scholarship supporting students conducting research that will impact the lives of other individuals diagnosed with breast cancer.
Created in 2020, the scholarship has provided support to several Illinois students conducting cancer research.
“The mission behind this scholarship is a powerful one, as research in the breast cancer field is critical. I am appreciative to have received this scholarship and intend to continue research in the cancer field during graduate school,” said Joy Chen, Illinois bioengineering undergraduate and Cancer Scholar.