Created by their 9-year-old daughter to help The H Foundation support cancer research, WAC Lighting Co-CEOs Dirk and Shelley Wald are asking the lighting and design community to support the Skylar Wald Let’s Beat Cancer Fundraiser. Skylar survived a courageous battle with cancer after her diagnosis at three months old and now she wants to help other children.
For many years, WAC Lighting, Port Washington, NY, and other lighting businesses have supported The H Foundation’s efforts in leading the way to a world without cancer and supporting basic science cancer research on behalf of the Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, one of the top cancer programs in the country. Skylar’s fundraiser was motivated by having her personal story shared when Dirk and Shelley received the 2023 Rick Wiedemer Guiding Light Award at the 2023 Goombay Bash, the annual fundraiser of The H Foundation, which was held recently at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Skylar’s story. In 2014, Skylar was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. At first, the pediatrician thought she had pneumonia. “She was having such a hard time breathing when they discovered a massive orange-sized tumor on her chest x-ray,” said Shelley Wald, in the press release. “It had grown so large it pushed her little heart below the ribcage and left her millimeters to breathe through. The doctors said we were very lucky as she could have passed in her sleep.”
“The doctor said our back is against the wall; we’ll have to do chemotherapy immediately,” said Dirk Wald in the press release. After a month of chemotherapy given as emergency treatment, doctors were able to sedate her for a biopsy which resulted in a resection. “Ultimately, we were very fortunate, and it was a successful surgery,” he added.
Since Skylar’s surgery, she has been cancer-free. “Skylar is now nine years old,” says Shelley Wald, “She is so smart, and she has so much determination, grit, and resourcefulness. She is super creative, and has a natural talent for style and color.” Skylar designs necklaces and bracelets with real semi-precious gemstones and markets them herself. A custom piece she donated sold for $1,000 during the Goombay Bash auction.
During the Walds’ acceptance speech, Shelley spoke about their niece, Kendal Lividini, who was diagnosed with ALL Leukemia at four years old. Since there were no FDA-approved drugs for kids, for three years her parents and doctors had no choice but to give her chemotherapy formulated for adults. Kendall beat that Leukemia, but after 10 cancer-free years she was diagnosed with AML, a secondary cancer doctors believed to be the direct result of the toxic treatment she had received before. Sadly, Kendal passed from that horrible disease. Years later when Skylar needed treatment, the only option was to give her the exact same toxic medicine as Kendal received.
“Why don’t we have more options to care for our kids?” Shelley Wald asked. “Because only 4% of federal funding goes to pediatric cancers. That is why thoughtfully-directed, private funding resources are so important to seeing the change we need. As parents, you never think this can happen to your kid, but it happens more often than you realize. Skylar was very lucky; not all are.”
How you can help. Please visit the Skylar Wald Fundraiser Page to learn more about the Wald’s story and to donate to this worthwhile cause.
About the H Foundation. Since its founding in 2001 by Hortons Home Lighting and other LaGrange, IL s-based businesses, The H Foundation and the Goombay Bash have been celebrated and supported by a sense of community. This grassroots spirit has underscored the message that “Cancer is Personal,” affecting real people -- families, friends, neighbors, partners and patrons. As the event has grown, this definition of community has broadened from LaGrange to Chicagoland to all of Illinois and beyond, driven by the individuals and businesses with direct connections in our day-to-day lives.
In 2017, The H Foundation created an opportunity to celebrate one community’s unwavering and continued support. This community was not defined by geographic boundaries or blood relations, but no less a family connected to the cause. The lighting industry inspired the Guiding Light Award to honor companies and individuals in the lighting community for their consistent and enduring efforts to support The H Foundation’s mission to fund basic science research and find a cure for cancer. WAC Lighting was presented with the inaugural award, along with Generation Lighting, Hinkley, Kichler, Quoizel and Satco. Subsequent recipients include Lighting One President Gregg Garofalo, Hubbardton Forge CEO Maria Mullen, and Hinkley former-CEO Rick Wiedemer.