Jack Felts Memorial Foundation Raises Fund for Lodging Costs
MAYWOOD, Ill. - Like many Downstate families of liver disease patients, Theresa Shields made regular overnight visits to Chicago from the Peoria area as her husband, Jack Felts, received treatment. Shields become friendly with other Downstate patients and their families and became aware of a unique challenge.
“Some Downstate family members would sleep in their cars and bathe in the hospital restrooms because they couldn’t afford a Chicago hotel room, which just broke my heart,” she said. “To have to bear the burden of caring for a sick loved one is incredibly stressful and it also can be financially draining.” Shields counted herself lucky because she had friends in the area to stay with and also had other means of support.
“My husband and I were blessed to be very connected and we had incredible resources that many others did not,” she said. “When Jack passed away, creating a legacy that honored him and also helped others from our area walking our same path was important to me."
The 4th Annual Jack Felts Hepatology Patient Fund Golf Outing will take place at noon on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Coyote Creek Golf Course, located at 8201 W. Lancaster Road in Bartonville, Ill.
All proceeds fund the Jack Felts room at The Carleton Hotel in Oak Park so that families of patients from Downstate Illinois can stay for no cost up to five nights near the Maywood Loyola campus. “We have helped 41 families since August 2012,” Shields said. “The demand is so great that we have kept the Jack Felts room steadily booked and are looking to potentially expand to offer an additional room."
Shields calls Dr. Scott Cotler, MD, division director of Hepatology at Loyola University Health System, “the best-kept secret in Peoria."
“People in Chicago or other urban areas have their choice of specialists, close to their home,” she said. “But here in our area, complex liver treatment is limited and driving the three hours each way to Chicago when your loved one is sick takes a toll."
Scott Cotler, MD, director, Loyola Liver Program, and his Loyola Hepatology colleagues travel Downstate to Peoria twice a month to care for as many as 250 patients. Patients with more complex needs are treated at the Loyola University Medical Center, just west of Chicago.
“Jack Felts truly cared about people and even when he wasn’t feeling well, would have a smile on his face,” Cotler said. “His wife, Theresa, offers that same spirit of dedication to others and selfless giving. That is what the Jack Felts legacy is all about."
Shields and her supporters are maintaining this spirit of giving through the annual golf tournament. “People say that Jack was lucky because he had me, but those who knew us well know that I am lucky because of him,” Shields said.
“He taught me, and all of us, that you live your life, that you do not stop, that you make every day count and you are grateful for the things you have and you help others.”
For more information, please visiit www.jackfelts.com/