Local family raises over $75,000 after losing a child to cancer - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local family raises over $75,000 after losing a child to cancer


After a Pecatonica woman lost her son to cancer, she decided to turn her tragedy into a blessing for other parents, and hopefully a future for other kids. 

Seven years ago, Peggy Johnson got the news that is every parent's worst nightmare. "There are days that you just wish you could wake up and walk away from it. Put it all behind you," she says 

Her 8-year-old son Ben had cancer.

"It's not easy, but it's your child," Peggy says. "You do what you have to do and you fight each day and you treasure each day" 

And so began the routine trips to UW Madison Children's Hospital. 

Ben Johnson was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at age 5 after a car accident. His tumor was removed, and he was fine for two years. 

"At that time they had said it was back and it was back with a fierceness," Peggy says. 

Ben was now making routine trips to the children's hospital for chemotherapy, radiation and stem cell transplants. 

He made those trips until he was 13-years-old. In 2011, Ben lost his fight with Neuroblastoma. 

"As a parent, in my heart, you have to stop this. There's got to be money and there's not a lot of funding for that," Peggy says. 

That is when the Ben-Inspired Foundation began. 

"We were throwing names out. 'We've been inspired.' Time out: we've Ben-Inspired!" says Staci Thompson, Ben's cousin, on how they came up with the name. 

And they were not the only ones who have been inspired. A big bowling event last Saturday raised more money than ever before, with the help of friends, family, coworkers and local businesses. 

"When we sat down initially, we had no idea what we would do, how far we would go," says Peggy. 

In seven years, the Ben-Inspired Foundation has raised more than $75,000. 

"We feel his presence all the time at these activities," says his mother. "We've all talked about that before. Yes, we know he is there, he has been with us and we know he is really happy to see this done. "

Ben's childhood friends have been there through it all. Now years later in college, they are still bowling for Ben. 

That $75,000 that has been raised has helped other kids through the Make a Wish Foundation, purchased equipment needed at the Children's Hospital in Madison and has helped fund research for Neuroblastoma. 

"I think his legacy is going to continue on because we know his personality made him a fighter and he never gave up. If we can live our lives the way Ben did, then we're going to be okay," Peggy says. "I'm excited to see him again one day. "

Small communities making a big impact, now that they have been-inspired.

Ben's sister Katelyn went on to go to college at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and is now a pediatric nurse, after spending years with Ben at the Children's Hospital there.

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