“Cancer did not stop during the pandemic, and thanks to the dedicated volunteers at the Montgomery County Cancer Association, no services for local patients were interrupted,” said Zach Wygal, organizer of Stamp Out Cancer.
Founded in 2010, the Stamp Out Cancer team has raised more than $548,000 for the MCCA, which helps county residents undergoing treatments for cancer through gas cards, mileage reimbursement and financial assistance. The group also helps to fund cancer research and local scholarships.
The Stamp Out Cancer event each year is one of the group’s biggest fundraisers, and Wygal and his team had big plans for a tenth anniversary celebration in March 2020.
And then the pandemic hit.
“I was following the virus closely,” Wygal said. “And I felt like we had to be proactive. There was a lot on the line.”
He and his team originally moved the date from March 2020 to August 2020. Then, they moved it to March 2021, and again to October 2021, before officially cancelling the event, which typically draws more than 500.
The group is offering a refund on all tickets purchased for the 2020 event, and anyone interested may contact Wygal at email@example.com or send them a message on Facebook.
“It was a tough decision, but it was the right thing to do,” Wygal said. “We would have no way to enforce mask wearing or vaccines. We can’t be an organization for public health and then go against the guidelines that have been set.”
Instead, Wygal and his committee (Dana Holshouser, Renee Laughlin, Theresa Priddle, Chris Wygal, Cory Evans, Kelsey Flack, Michelle Hill and Heather Greenwood) opted for a smaller gathering to honor the three fundraising teams and celebrate their accomplishments.
They will meet on Saturday, Oct. 9, at The Event Center with food provided by Q-1-7. It will be a final turn-in for the fundraising teams, and a winner will be crowned at a later date. This year’s celebrity teams included Aaron and Ally Wood of Nokomis, Tara Baker and Madison Baker of Hillsboro and Jenny Pezold and Diana Sisson of Litchfield.
“Our teams were awesome,” Wygal said. “They held some amazing events, and even though we don’t get to have our big finish, it’s still been another amazing Stamp Out Cancer season. In the end, it’s not about who wins. The end result is helping a whole bunch of people who are fighting cancer.”
Team Female Fight Club
The mother-daughter team of Tara Baker and Madison Baker held a wide variety of fundraisers as part of their team festivities.
“We felt truly privileged to be a part of this,” Tara said. “And we were happy to help. I see what it does and see the people cancer affects.”
Both Baker and her daughter are graduates of Hillsboro High School. Tara currently works for the state of Illinois in the DHS division, and Madison is a student at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, where she is studying to earn her masters in accountancy. She is currently employed as an auditor for Clifton Larson Allen.
The pair hosted several events, including a princess party, celebrity bartending, bull riding, a bags tourney and more.
“We had some good events and made a lot of really good memories,” Tara said.
Outside of participating in Stamp Out Cancer, the team enjoys playing with their five dogs, traveling abroad, going to concerts and eating Mexican food.
“We have had numerous family and friends affected by cancer and are so happy to be supporting this amazing cause that helps so many people,” Tara said. “My motto in life is that we’re all in this together, and we have to help each other out.”
Team Pezold Strong
“We definitely did this in memory of Layton,” said Jenny Pezold of Walshville. “It’s not something I ever would have done. It’s way out of my comfort zone.”
Pezold teamed up with her good friend, Diana Sisson of Litchfield, to form Team Pezold Strong in memory of her son, Layton Pezold, who died on Oct. 12, 2018, after a year-long battle with leukemia.
Jenny and her husband of 31 years, Doug, reside in Walshville. In addition to Layton, the couple have three children, Brittney Fletcher, Logan Pezold and Brooke Pezold and six grandchildren, Easton, Rowan, Bexley, Avelina, Crew and Timberlynn. Pezold works as a registered nurse at the Springfield Clinic.
Her partner, Diana Sisson, lives in Litchfield with her husband, Curt. They have four children, Clint, Cory, Tori and Todd and five grandchildren with another on the way. She is also a registered nurse with the Springfield Clinic.
“As a participant in Stamp Out Cancer, I feel it’s a time to honor those who have battled cancer and lost, and those who are still fighting and beat it,” Sisson said. “And on an even more personal level, it’s another way to keep the memory alive of a very special boy, (Layton) one who chose me to share some of the best and also the most difficult, times of his life.”
The team hosted lots of fundraisers in early 2020, including a penny war at the schools, Krispy Kreme donut sale, a princess party, an evening with a magician, a bake sale, raffles, a band at The Abbey on Broad Street, and their biggest fundraiser, a bowling tournament.
“I definitely did this in memory of Layton,” said Jenny Pezold. “With the support we received when Layton had cancer, we want to help other families.”
Team A. Wood
The husband and wife team of Aaron and Ally Wood of Ohlman enjoyed their experience with the Stamp Out Cancer team.
“Honestly, we just like to help the MCCA,” said Aaron Wood. “In this day and age, everybody knows someone with cancer. We felt like doing our part to help the community and the MCCA.”
Aaron graduated from Hillsboro High School in 2007, while his wife, Ally, graduated from Nokomis High School in 2008. He works at the Nokomis Quarry, and his wife is a registered nurse with the Springfield Clinic. They have a daughter, Adaleigh, and two dogs, Maverick and Zoey. Outside Stamp Out Cancer, they enjoy spending time outside, playing with their daughter and hanging out with close friends.
“We have always been supporters of Stamp Out Cancer, and are extremely grateful to have been given this opportunity,” said Aaron.
The couple hosted a variety of fundraisers, including a scavenger hunt, a biscuits and gravy breakfast, pizza sale and a very popular toilet fundraiser, where they took brightly colored toilets and put them in people’s yards for weeks. They give special thanks to several businesses who helped their team, including Kamer’s Kove in Ohlman, Opera House Brewing Company in Hillsboro, the Depot Pub in Nokomis, the Korner Store in Schram City, Ron’s Produce in Taylorville, Mac’s Diner in Witt and the Cubby Hole in Carlinville, as well as the Stamp Out Cancer team and everyone who donated.