Local donors' gift makes McHenry County say 'Wow!'

  • Zizi Balk hugs her friend Michelle Farfan as they check out a digital photograph during a fundraiser for Balk, who is battling a brain tumor.

      Zizi Balk hugs her friend Michelle Farfan as they check out a digital photograph during a fundraiser for Balk, who is battling a brain tumor. John Starks | Staff Photographer

Published6/22/2008 12:03 AM

Few longtime McHenry County residents would be surprised that Sage Products was making a donation to a local hospital. The firm and its co-founders, Vince Foglia and Paul Hills, are well known for their generous hearts and community spirit.

The men and their firm have truly made a difference behind the scenes, both locally and nationally, often hidden from the spotlight.


But the "wow" light was flashing big time when Centegra Health Care revealed last week that Sage is donating a whopping $2.5 million to help build a Women's Health Care center on Centegra's Memorial Hospital campus.

The generous donation will help bring a rather unique facility to McHenry County, serving women and children with a breast-care center, high-risk nursery, advanced imaging and diagnostic equipment, oncology spa and support, labor and delivery and more.

They expect to break ground for the 77,500-square foot Centegra Sage Women's Pavillion in fall 2009 if the state OKs the project. Wow.

Look Ma - no water!

You may know Sage, by the way, for the Cary firm's disposable health-care products such as the Comfort Bath now used in many hospitals and nursing homes and also sold in local drugstores to use at home. My aging parents and I can tell you it's a gift whether you're bed-bound or not.

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Helping hands

Michelle Farfan tells me she is very grateful there are many other generous souls out there. She and her father Tom French, of WineStyles in Lake in the Hills, recently hosted a fundraiser to help her friend, Zizi Balk, a Palatine mother of two who is battling a brain tumor, job and financial woes and no insurance. The fundraiser for Zizi Balk went well, Michelle tells me, with the incredibly generous donation of free MRIs from Rosemary Martin with Midwest Sports Medicine.

As Zizi struggles to stay on top of her bills, Michelle said she could sure use a computer to help with her job search. If you can help, please contact Michelle at (847) 338-9014.

Kind spirits

Have you noticed that, as times get tougher for so many people, people seem to be stretching what they have to help others?

A lulu of a deal

Some among us know better than anyone how tough the struggle can be. Luann Bauer opened Lulu's Wiggin' Out in downtown Algonquin a few years ago after she, as a breast cancer survivor, saw the challenges of coping with cancer, chemotherapy, etc. I know from a dear friend just how compassionate the folks at that shop were to her and how very much it helped when she lost her hair -- and spirit -- during her toughest days. "You should write about Lulu's," she told me as she showed off the new wig that brought a smile and vital boost during difficult days.


As my colleague Larissa Chinwah recently told you in a story still posted on our Web site, Lulu's is for everyone wanting a boost. The store has now expanded and you can also find their fun offerings inside Complete Bridal Salon and Plaza, 121 W. Main St., West Dundee. No, you don't have to be a bride!

Smell the flowers

Sue Harney of Dundee Township asked me to invite you to today's flower walk led by Jim from 2 to 4 p.m. at Snuffy's Prairie in Raceway Woods. That's Snuffy as in Don "Snuffy" Smith who helped lead the charge for open space before his death in 2003. The 16-acre restored prairie was named in his honor.

And enjoy …

This can be a busy Sunday for you. Besides the Cubs-Sox crosstown matchup, don't forget Holly McNeill's 4 p.m. benefit concert at the First United Methodist Church of West Dundee, 318 W. Main St. Swedish Days is in full swing with lots of activities and fun, including today's parade at 1 p.m. in Geneva. And Cary Days is winding down with its always-popular fireworks show at dusk in Lions Park.

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