OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois cares for patients from throughout Illinois and annually recognizes those who are making a difference in the lives of children. The 30th annual Community Advocacy Awards were recently presented to the following:
There were two winners of the Bill Houlihan Professional Award:
Dr. Cynthia Fischer has spent her whole life advocating and working with children. She began teaching in District 150 at Peoria High School in 1975. Since then, she has served as the Special Education Coordinator, Principal of Peoria Alternative High School, and Director of Career and Technical Education for the district. She has also served as an interim leader for Crittenton Centers and Quest Charter Academy at various times. She currently serves on the Board of Community Foundations of Central Illinois.
As a professional educator, Cindy also has been involved with school safety, attendance, early childhood development and Adopt-a-School programs. Generations of Peoria students have been positively impacted by Dr. Fischer’s leadership over the past 45 years.
Monica Blunier has been a pediatric physical therapist for 24 years at OSF Children’s Hospital of Illinois.
Monica is certified in neurodevelopmental treatment and serves as a clinical instructor for physical therapy students. She contentiously treats 30-40 kids per month that are either inpatient or outpatient. She has exceptional skills to provide the highest quality of care for her patients with special needs and their families. During the pandemic, Monica has been able to continue providing exceptional care for her patients through innovative ways. She is always the first person to step up and help out at any event that supports children with special needs.
Christine Zak-Edmonds Volunteer Award:
Chloe Peterson is a childhood survivor of Wilm’s Tumor diagnosed at age one. She courageously battled chemotherapy treatments, relapse and multiple surgeries at age six. In 2015, as an outstanding high school softball player, Chloe chose to help kids battling cancer by starting her own foundation. She raised money by having each teammate obtain sponsors for every hit made throughout the season. She enlisted the help of her Notre Dame Irish softball and baseball teams.
Chloe reached out to other teams during her high school and college athletic career. Since inception in 2015, over $140,000 has been raised for oncology patients. She has impacted 120-150 patients annually since she began her program. Prior to COVID, Chloe brought these teams to the Children’s Hospital Pediatric Oncology Clinic to meet and entertain the patients.
She now partners with the Heller Center for Kids with Cancer where she recently made a $20,000 donation. She is an excellent spokesperson for Hits for the Cure and the types of programs it supports, increasing general community knowledge and pediatric hematology and oncology and what is it like to be a survivor. Chloe is an outstanding person with a great work ethic and extremely philanthropic heart.
Children’s Advisory Board Group Award:
LifeLine Pilots provide air transportation for people with medical and humanitarian needs. This includes no cost flights for medically fragile kids. LifeLine Pilots have more than 450 volunteer pilots who donate their time and cover all expenses of flying their aircraft. Based in Peoria, Illinois, LifeLine Pilots provide free flights for children and adults throughout a 10-state region in the Midwest. Founded in 1981, by Wanda Whitsitt, LifeLine Pilots is the oldest volunteer pilot organization in the country. Just in the past four years, they have flown children over 220 times. Special children with very unique needs fly on the wings of LifeLine Pilots to receive exceptional care.
Dr. Mary Schultz Physician Award:
Dr. Jalayne Lapke
Dr. Jalayne Lapke has served as an outstanding Champion for Children throughout her almost 40 year career as a general pediatrician. In that time, she has run a highly successful general pediatric practice within the Department of Pediatrics at UICOMP which serves as the main pediatric teaching practice for medical students and residences. To elevate her practice to the highest level, she sought and achieved the formal Medical Home designation with NCQA Accreditation at Level 3.
Seeing over 600 patients annually, Dr. Lapke cares passionately in every way for the children of today and tomorrow. Dr. Lapke has always chosen to help care for children with complex chronic health care needs, some of those with the most intricate medical, educational, and social needs. This long-term commitment to these patients and their families made her an ideal choice to serve as the Medical Director of the new Almost Home Kids facility when it opened in 2018. The AHK model has a general pediatrician as the medical director, and with assistance from the other pediatricians in her busy practice, Dr. Lapke willingly stepped up to take on this new responsibility in addition to still seeing outpatients and continuing her other activities benefitting children. As the Medical Director, Dr. Lapke has done an outstanding job developing a true multidisciplinary team to care for these very special children, many of whom have a tracheostomy and a home ventilator to sustain their breathing.