By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – In 2017, Catie LeSage, a resident of Green Bay, was diagnosed with pelvic osteosarcoma.
“What was thought to be sciatica pain was actually a 10-centimeter tumor that resulted in several months of chemotherapy, three 20-hour surgeries, a lifetime theft and three months at the Mayo Clinic,” her husband said. Adam LeSage.
Adam LeSage said the surgery that saved his wife’s life also left her disabled, without much movement in her right leg.
“We understand how dark and lonely Cancer is, but more importantly what hope can do,” he said. “Living through those dark times, and also those times when hope and care took us out of those dark times, guided our lives.”
It was this hope his family received during the most difficult time of their lives, which guided Adam LeSage and his business partner Shana Joseph – owners of the Defining78 photography studio – to launch an annual Christmas fundraiser against the Cancer.
“In the dark, we all walk towards any fragment of light, to find a glimmer of hope,” said Adam LeSage. “We wanted to be that light for someone else.”
For the past three years, the photography business duo have organized a fundraiser to do just that.
“We have been fundraising for Christmas Against Cancer for the past three years and have raised nearly $ 10,000 in total,” said LeSage. “When it was our trip to cancer, the kindness of others got us through the darkest nights. And it is by giving that we receive.
The photographic duo raffled off a free photoshoot, collecting donations from over 50 people for a total of $ 5,000.
“We view photography as our platform,” said LeSage. “We are the supporting actors here, however, and we give all credit to those around us who gave with a big heart to a family in need of hope this Christmas. We are very grateful to our client photographers, friends and family who made this gift possible. Although we will raffle a photo and video shoot at one of the fundraising donors, the people who donate never meet family and most get nothing tangible in return.
It is for this reason, says LeSage, that they record and share deliveries.
“When we delivered this amazing gift to these families, we wanted in one way or another to be able to bring in all of the people who made this possible through their generous donations,” he said. “We wanted to be able to share the joy and we thought the safest and most secure way was to check in doing it. “Love Actually” is one of our favorite Christmas movies and the use of the billboards was borrowed from a scene in that movie. (By recording it) we were then able to share the experience with those who had donated. We also hoped to inspire others to make a difference in the lives of others.
This story ironically involves a little girl the Press Times introduced to readers earlier this month.
The family receiving this year’s Defining78 Christmas Cancer Fundraiser is that of 5-year-old Autumn Gauerke, who was diagnosed with rare or leukemia on Thanksgiving.
“Cancer is a devastating diagnosis for an adult, let alone a 5 year old,” said LeSage. “There is enough to worry about during the rigors of cancer treatment. The least that a person should have to worry about is paying their mortgage, bills, groceries, etc.
LaSage and Joseph delivered the donation last weekend, along with their children.
“My son Faron and two of Shana’s four children, Wren and Harlow, were with us,” he said. “We live in a very consumer-oriented society. We wanted our children to participate in the donation.
LeSage said In many ways, paying it forward honors the people who have helped them in our darkest times.
“We find a bit of healing in giving,” he said. “The gift defines our lives and helps write the legacy we leave for our children. When it was our trip to cancer, the kindness of others got us through the darkest nights. And it is by giving that we receive.
The name Defining78 also has special meaning for LeSage and Joseph.
“The average life expectancy in the United States is 78 years,” said LeSage. “The name Defining78 reminds us to make those years count. We are a team of people who try to stay aware that we all have a limited time in this life: to accomplish whatever we want, to spend time with the people we love the most, and to influence or improve the lives of others. others. We have discovered that photography is not only our passion, but also the vehicle that helps us develop our capacity to radiate. “
To watch the donation video, visit the Defining78 Facebook page.