In two weeks John and Lisa Allison will celebrate the second birthday of their “miracle baby,” Madelyn, who was brought to this world with the help of Angels of Hope.
The Allisons gave a testimonial during Angels of Hope’s Summer Fling fundraiser Saturday at the Morris Country Club. Madelyn is one of four children born with the help of Angels of Hope’s Creating Miracles Grant.
“Infertility is a long and hard road to travel. Organizations like Angels of Hope help couples have a family,” said Lisa Allison. “Now that we have Mady we feel our family is complete. We’re now a family of four, which is still sometimes hard to believe after all we have been through.”
The Allisons' oldest daughter, Jillian, is five and was also conceived through invitro fertilization. Between both children the couple went through six rounds of infertility treatments. After Jillian their insurance would not cover them trying multiple times again, that was when they received the grant and got pregnant with Madelyn on the last try.
Angels of Hope Inc. is an organization to help anyone dealing with the emotional or physical absence of a child. It was established in 2005, and helps in many ways, including a Creating Miracles grant, to assist couples with fertility procedures, and an Everlasting Footprints grant, to help those who have lost a child with burial and headstone fees.
About 200 people were registered to come to the event before the night of and several people bought tickets at the door, said Russelle Holsinger, vice president of Angels of Hope.
The fundraiser underwent some changes this year. Formally a chocolate gala this year the group offered dinner, and the location was changed. This is the first year it was held in Morris, which seemed to attract a lot of new faces, Holsinger said.
“Before a lot of people would go out for dinner and come here for dessert. Now a lot of people have made a night of it,” she said.
The event served a cheeseburger bar, dessert buffet and had entertainment by The Spazmatcis, a 1980s cover band. Silent auction items and raffles were also available.
A new guest this year was Dr. Marek Piekos, the reproductive specialist for many of the grant recipients, and Angels of Hope volunteers including President Jamie Sikora.
“When I went to see him he told me we would die trying,” Sikora said.
For the Angels of Hope organization it was very touching for this doctor who has changed some many lives to be present at their event, she said.
Piekos was the Allisons’ doctor as well and said it was wonderful to see Madelyn as a toddler.
“What (Angels of Hope has) done here is so unbelievable. With all this hard work, this has surprised me so much,” Piekos said.
Tuesday, just three days after the annual fundraiser, would have been Sikora’s twin sons seventh birthday. She conceived them through invitro, but they were born prematurely and passed away.
“Some days, it seems like yesterday that I held them and touched them. Other days I can’t believe that it has been seven long years since I kissed them goodbye,” she said while fighting tears during her opening speech.
Sikora has since had two children, one through invitro and her youngest naturally.
“My connection to Angels of Hope is a deeply personal one. Not only have I lost my sons, but I also have battled with fertility issues. I know first-hand what it is like to be told that it would take surgical procedures, pills, shots and a whole lot of money to help me conceive; and at that there would be no guarantee that I would conceive,” she said.
Money raised at the event goes toward the grants, its Memorial Garden at Campbell Memorial Park in Coal City, as well as its annual vigil and brick dedication ceremonies.
For more information on Angels of Hope, its grants or fundraiser call (815) 942-1111 or visit angelsofhopeinc.org.