When Kim Marino lost her father, Phil Lawler, Naperville Central High School’s baseball coach of 20 years and teacher for 30 years, to a seven-year battle with cancer in 2011, Naperville also lost a beloved friend, renowned for his dedication to the health and lives of his students and friends. Continuing her father’s legacy of compassion, Kim started The Phil Lawler Batting 4 A Cure Foundation in 2013, a foundation that is making a difference in the lives of those with cancer.
For you, Batting 4 A Cure is obviously very personal. What has been the most gratifying part of its mission?
I love giving back to the community I love and live in, and the community my dad was always so proud of. It comes full circle for me, the fact that I can also give back to cancer patients who live here.
Your father was a well-respected and well-loved figure in Naperville. Thousands attended his memorial service, and his Number 29 uniform still flies over the baseball fields at Naperville Central high school. What do you hope to accomplish in his memory?
Phil Lawler Batting 4 A Cure’s mission is to positively impact the lives of Naperville families affected by cancer. Through fundraising efforts, the goal is to help families with financial support in order to alleviate some of the financial burden. In addition, the Foundation gives a portion of the proceeds to support cancer research. It’s an honor to be able to come full circle and do this. When we’re able to give a check to someone in need and you see the expression on their face, you can barely breathe. The fact we can do that is so amazing.
You worked in the pharmaceutical industry for eight years before you started the Foundation. Who has helped you take on this new responsibility?
What’s interesting is you say it out loud—“I want to start a charity” – and then you really figure out what it encompasses. I started it with my brothers, Scott and Todd Lawler, and best friends, Marc Sweda and Ann Dana who are co-founders with Alyse Bergmann and Nick DiGiovanni. We have built a foundation together that has been truly a blessing! They all work tirelessly to pull in as much as we can to help the Naperville cancer community.
Who have you been able to help so far, and what kind of assistance have you been able to offer?
We have helped a lot of people and four families so far, but the bulk of our efforts have gone to the Edward Cancer Center. So far, we’ve been able to give $30,000 to the Edward Cancer Center and then between individual families we’ve given another $20,000. We try to help those people who can’t afford to get to a hospital or can’t afford chemo each month. Some can’t even afford their heart meds or diabetic meds, so we are able to help.
The past two years the Foundation has sponsored golfing events to raise money and you also accept donations on your web site, www.batting4acure.com. What future events do you have planned?
The first year we were able to raise $16,000 and we did it and planned it in four months. It was amazing. So we thought how can we make it better and raise even more money? So we did an auction last year for baskets at the golf event and that raised even more money. This year’s golf outing is September 26 at Tamarack Golf Club. We’ll do baskets again, but we may also try a December Christmas fundraising event for cancer at the Cress Creek County Club.Photo by Robyn Sheldon