Gilda's Club Heroes Ball

Gilda's Club Heroes Ball

The annual Gilda's Club Heroes Ball will be held this Saturday at the RIT Inn & Conference Center.
The annual Gilda's Club Heroes Ball will be held this Saturday at the RIT Inn & Conference Center.

Kim and Dan Leonhard of Webster are among the heroes who will be recognized for their support of Gilda's Club, which provides important resources for families battling cancer. The Leonhard's know first hand how Gilda's club can make a difference. To see Kim and Dan Leonhard today, it's hard to believe doctors had devastating news almost five years ago. Kim was told she had cancer.

"I was so overwhelmed," Kim said.

It wasn't Kim's first bout with the disease. At 18 months she was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, resulting in the amputation of her lower left leg. At five it recurred in her lungs. Twenty-five years later it was back.

"I was saying all the things that everybody says, this is not fair, how can this happen, especially when I have two kids."

Dan was Kim's rock, but when it came to cancer, the Leonhard's realized they needed help. That's when they turned to Gilda's Club.

"It was perfect for what I was experiencing at the time," Kim said.

Kim feared she was dying. But attending a support group and hearing other people's problems helped her realize she could make it.

"Gilda's Club turned the light on. It gave me my fighting spirit back."

And Kim's spirit, in turn, became a source of hope for others.

"That was the biggest shift for her is when she is able to give back, and that's really, I think, what Gilda's Club is the best at-putting people together who can help each other," Dan Leonhard said.

It was also important for the Leonhard's children, Kaitlin and Michael. They attended Camp Open Arms just as their mom had years earlier.

"It's two awesome weeks in the summer and we can share experiences," Kim said.

After Doctors removed part of her kidney, Kim beat cancer for a third time. December 31st will mark five years cancer free. Earlier this year the Leonhard's welcomed a third child, Jacob, into their lives. What tomorrow brings, the Leonhard's don't know, but they've been given hope- hope they found with the help of Gilda's Club.

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