PERU — A Girl Scout Gold Award project in the Illinois Valley has touched the lives of both cancer survivors and the loved ones of those who have lost their battle with cancer.
While Katrina Rudolph was an ambassador of Troop 1652 of Princeton, she became the mastermind behind a community service project that would earn her a Gold Award.
She was inspired to create a peaceful, outdoor brick courtyard at Valley Regional Cancer Center in Peru. The courtyard was made from memory bricks that people purchased and had engraved to honor the survivors of cancer and remember those who fought the good fight.
Over the past two years, Rudolph has gotten people from all over the area and beyond to purchase an engraved brick to be placed in the courtyard. More than 100 bricks were sold, which helped to lay the foundation of her project.
Rudolph went on to earn her Gold Award last year, but wanted to host a dedication ceremony at the courtyard to showcase the project and invite those who purchased bricks to come and witness the final product.
During the celebration Wednesday afternoon, cancer survivors and loved ones of those who passed gather in the peaceful space, where cancer patients, staff and loved ones have gathered to enjoy the outdoor space over the past several years and remember those who passed on.
Rudolph explained while the project had her name on it, it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of everyone else.
“I was inspired by my grandfather, who passed from cancer, to build this, because he loved the outdoors, and I know so many other people do, too,” she said.
“I wanted to do something that would change our community and something that would bring us together and be united, because that’s what Girl Scouts are all about —being a family, being united and supporting each other.”
Among the crowd at the dedication ceremony were friends and family of Mary Ellen Dugosh who had lived in Tiskilwa and was an avid countryside Yahtzee club member before she lost her battle to ovarian cancer in April 2016.
Her fellow club members, who were also her close friends, reminisced about the good times with their dear friend.
They remember Dugosh as wonderful person who always looked forward to getting together with the close-knit club members. Ginger Murphy of Tiskilwa said Dugosh never missed a meeting, and she always looked forward to hosting game night at her house.
“She was a jewel and a special person,” she said.
Together, the club members purchased a brick in the courtyard in memory of their close friend. Along with Dugosh’s name, the brick has a Yahtzee dice engraved on the side to honor her dedication to the club and to the members whose lives she touched.