Edwardsville “Rocks” Out for Willow

Isabella Lilley, Staff Writer

Walk it, stock it or rock it, nothing seems insurmountable for Willow’s Warriors.

Her supporters hosted their third event, Rock for Willow, in support of EHS junior Willow Tolly this Saturday, April 5 at the Knights of Columbus in Edwardsville.

Tolly was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis in 2011, and underwent a pacreatectomy with an auto islet cell transplant on March 10. Willow had her pancreas, gallbladder, spleen and part of her lower intestine removed. Her islet cells were transplanted to her liver to produce insulin in place of her pancreas.

To help offset medical costs of the surgery and hospital stay, Willow’s friend and former cross-country teammate, senior Caroline Barker and others created the non-for-profit Willow’s Warriors.

The group hosted a Walk for Willow at the Edwardsville Meyer Center YMCA on March 1 to help raise awareness of chronic pancreatitis before Willow went into surgery. In addition, Restore Décor sponsored a furniture auction earlier in the year. Community members could come into a house stocked with refurnished furniture and purchase. All funds, amounting to over $3000, went directly to the Tolly family.

“I wanted to do something that would get everyone together to show support for Willow. I wanted her to see all the people she has behind her,” Barker said.

The benefit concert featured local bands Love Me Leave Me and The Limit.

Senior Alan Bonk, drummer for Love Me Leave Me, helped begin coordinating the night with Barker about a month ago. They asked the families of cross country runners for help, and were overwhelmed with support.

“Nothing can beat the feeling of doing what I love to do and helping someone in the process,” Bonk said.

The event drew a reasonable crowd, bringing in $3,120 by the end of the night.

“We were at first really worried there wouldn’t be that great of a turnout because we didn’t sell that many tickets in advance. To think that there were other events going on a Saturday night and people decided to come to this was just awesome,” Barker said.

In addition to the music, there was food for sale from restaurants such as Qdoba, The Cup and Annie’s Frozen Custard. All the food was donated and over $500 was given is basket donations from local businesses to be auctioned off. All proceeds went directly to Willow’s fund.  Junior Kate Ojeda was in charge of soliciting the donations.

“I probably went to 50 businesses and about 20 donated…but whatever we get counts. It’s very time consuming, but very worth it.” Ojeda said. “I’m sure Willow appreciated all of the Willow’s Warriors efforts, and it’s all giving her hope.”