Joliet businessman Ed Czerkies recently presented Silver Cross Hospital’s retiring President & CEO Paul Pawlak with the final payment towards his $1.5 million gift in memory of his wife, Carolyn. At the age of 59, Carolyn passed away in 2000 after suffering from myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow. The couple traveled back and forth to several major academic medical centers to get the best care to treat her rare illness.
“I remember how difficult it was for our family,” Ed said. “So when I heard about the new Cancer Center at Silver Cross, I knew this was a good project and something that I wanted to be a part of.”
Czerkies’ generous donation was used to help build the Carolyn J. Czerkies Pavilion in 2012 – home to The University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Over the past five years, the Cancer Center has provided state-of-the-art chemotherapy and radiation treatments for more than 1,500 residents of Will County and surrounding areas. Patients have access to over 150 clinical trials at the New Lenox facility in addition to hundreds more at University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus. Recently, the Cancer Center at Silver Cross began offering genetic testing and counseling. Patients can be tested for genetic markers for breast, ovarian, colorectal and other cancers.
“We are grateful for his investment in Silver Cross making sure quality care is available for future generations in Will County,” Pawlak said.
Born in the back of the family car on the way to Silver Cross Hospital, Ed Czerkies grew up on Joliet’s eastside as the youngest of seven children. His father farmed 65 acres and worked at U.S. Steel. His mother served as a housekeeper at Silver Cross during World War II. Ed graduated from Joliet Township High School and went on to earn his degree and teaching certificate from Northern Illinois University. After many part-time and substitute teaching jobs, he recognized his passion for construction, specifically concrete work. Over the past 45 years, Ed built many homes and industrial facilities in Joliet, Shorewood and Plainfield. In 1992, he built a storage facility, which Carolyn operated until she became sick.
Carolyn also grew up in Joliet as the oldest of five children. She graduated from Providence Catholic High School and worked for Illinois Securities, Argonne National Laboratories and Joliet Junior College through Manpower. The couple met at St. Thaddeus Church when Ed was in college and married in 1965. They have three sons and seven grandchildren.
“Carolyn was a devoted mother attending all the boys’ baseball and basketball games when they were growing up,” Ed said. “The cancer center is a fitting tribute to her life. She was worth every dime of it.”
For more information about investing in Silver Cross, contact the Silver Cross Foundation at (815) 300-7105 or to make a donation visit silvercross.org.