A quick drive through Cherokee County would be plenty to convince travelers that the area abounds with talented people. The streets of Cherokee itself are lined with charming stonework, floral displays and wonderful shops. Look closer and one would find scattered amongst the residential neighborhoods numerous residents who have a passion and a knack for a certain skill or hobby. Shirley Skadeland and daughter Linda Grauer are two of such residents.
The two share a love of quilting. Linda carefully pieces together the intricate quilt blocks, and Shirley with her long arm quilting machine, helps transform it into a work of art. Their family talent - along with plenty of their time, is now dedicated to a cause now close to their hearts.
Five years ago, these women learned that they had a granddaughter, Christa Lux, also of Cherokee, who had been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. It was devastating to learn the details, and realize what a struggle lie ahead of their new granddaughter. Cystic Fibrosis is a life threatening disease which mainly causes plugging and scarring of the lungs, and difficulties in digesting food properly.
"She is a brave little fighter," mother Carrie Lux says of Christa. "She has been through more tests, procedures and surgeries in her five years than I have at 31.
"She takes what seems to be an ever increasing quantity of medicines and theraputic treatments each day, but it is what her body needs to function and grow, and she's doing wonderfully!" Carrie adds.
Christa looks like a picture of health today. She is the motivation which has set this family of four strong generations of women into high gear to help raise research money for CF. Her daily fight against the disease also inspires many in the community to contribute to a local outdoor concert event in Cherokee known as "Rock the Block," August 18.
"Funding for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's research is vital here and now," says Lux. According to the national CFF, there are a number of very promising treatments for CF on the horizon. "Testing and trials with each new therapy are terribly expensive. Because CF affects just 30,000 or so young adults and children across the country, it is not a disease on the drug companies' high priority list to cure. A large part of the funding for the therapies we are lucky to have today, was raised by parents of CF children generations before Christa. Thank goodness those families took the initiative to do so, or many of the life preserving treatments she uses now might not be around."
Three years ago, a family friend suggested that a street dance would be a great way to raise money and bring awareness to the cause. This friend, and now co-chair of the event Lisa Vandelune, had what would turn out to be a golden idea. A committee of appreciated friends and family help pull together the event each year. "People love to watch a live band" says Carrie "and it is such an atmosphere of excitement when the Rumbles pull into town".
The Rumbles, out of Council Bluffs, are returning this year to headline the event and will play from 9 PM until 1 AM.
"We have been working hard to add some island atmosphere to an outdoor beer garden too, which will set the stage for a great place for friends to meet up and celebrate together." There will be plenty of variety in popular summer food this year too with an expanded concessions area open all evening also.
Leading up to the performance there are now many fun activities to enjoy. There will be no gate fee for families and individuals who come to enjoy the meal and activities before 8 PM. After 8 the gate fee will be just $3 per head (children are still free). This years' Rock the Block crowd will enjoy a family friendly place for all the kids to run and play at the fairgrounds. The fairground gates will open at 5 PM and guests are asked to enter through the south gate. A pork loin meal grilled up by the local pork producers will start the evening off. One new addition to the event will be a classic car shine and show from 5-7 PM. Classis car owners can cruise in with their favorite car and their favorite cruisin' partner to enjoy a relaxing summer Iowa evening. Car enthusiasts can stroll through to admire the show.
The kid's zone this year will include pony rides courtesy of the Cavaliers, lots of old fashioned carnival games, home made ice cream, crafts, inflatable bounce houses, and loads of fun prizes. While children enjoy the games, the parents will be able to browse the wide selection of items up for chance in the raffle area. They will have family packages, and sporting event get-aways to offer, along with autographed memorabilia and exciting merchandise and certificates donated by area businesses. One of the featured items at the raffle will be the beautiful quilt by the Lux family women.
If anyone is unable to attend but would like to contribute, call 712-225-6239, or mail a check to treasurer & co-chair Lisa Vandelune, 1813, 500th St., Cherokee, IA 51012.
All of their proceeds go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.