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 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.
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,” explains Shelley. “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,” explains Dirk. 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,” Dirk concludes. Since Skylar’s surgery, she has been cancer-free.
Today, “Skylar is nine years old,” continues Shelley. “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 $1000 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, but 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 ten 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 asked. “Because only four percent of federal funding goes to pediatric cancers. That is why thoughtfully directed, private funding resources are so important to see 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.
For more information about WAC, visit www.waclighting.com.