Jack Czapla, the newly awarded Illinois Leukemia and Lymphoma Society 2012 Boy of the Year, is a true inspiration. Jack was diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia in 2009 at only four-years-old. Through 26 months of chemotherapy, 20 spinal taps, 6 bone marrow aspirations, and a near fatal allergic reaction, Jack has remained positive and has shown more concern for others than himself.
After a nurse gave him a plain, old Band-Aid during one of his treatments, the Daily Herald in Chicago reports that Jack alerted his mom, Vickie Czapla, to a problem—the lack of fun, whimsical Band-Aids to cheer up other ill children. With determination, Jack set up a lemonade stand outside a local Jewel grocery store and raised $2000 to buy fun Band-Aids for Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital. An additional 6000 boxes of children’s Band-Aids were donated.
Jack has also sparked generosity throughout his school. Currently, each classroom in Washington Elementary School in Mundelein, Illinois has a spare change box to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. A life-size cutout of Jack accompanies each box to remind the community that this cause is particularly meaningful to their school. In a statement to the Daily Herald, Vickie explained, “The school has been wonderful to us. I didn’t realize how much you need your community until you go through something like this.”
As part of his award, Jack will appear on posters, taxicabs and in magazines in Illinois promoting the Illinois Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s annual Man and Woman of the Year contests. Candidates in the competition will raise money in honor of Jack and the 2012 Girl of the Year, Kendall Sierens. The organization reports that the campaign raised $625,000 last year. The funds raised will be dedicated to research.
Currently, Jack is in what is considered the maintenance phase of his disease and has over a year left of treatment. He takes chemotherapy pills each day. Additionally, he receives IV chemotherapy once a month and has spinal taps and steroid treatments every few months. Throughout Jack’s treatment, the Czaplas remain greatly involved in cancer awareness and plan to continue spreading the message after his treatment is complete.