10th annual Bilec Bowl to raise money for pancreatic cancer
Jodi Parach has one goal in mind — to raise awareness and money for pancreatic cancer research.
And on the 10th year of her mother’s death at age 62 from pancreatic cancer, she’s doing just that.
Parach and her family will host the 10th annual Bilec Bowl for Pancreatic Cancer on March 10 in honor of Wanda Bilec of North Huntingdon, who died March 5, 2009.
The event will take place at New Great Valley Lanes off Route 30 in North Versailles, where her mom and dad first met.
The Wanda Bilec Foundation
George Bilec of North Huntingdon walked into the bowling alley in 1985, not knowing he was about to meet his future wife. But two years later, the couple was married, raising four children from previous marriages and participating in bowling leagues.
“She was like the person for everybody. She was the matriarch of the family,” said Parach, a Downingtown resident.
As a former Westinghouse Electric Corp. worker, Wanda Bilec was one of five children and whose closet was like a general store, Parach said.
But in 2008, Wanda Bilec went to the doctor with pain that physicianss couldn’t easily figure out. In April 2008, she received her official diagnosis.
Parach was seven months pregnant when she found out her mom was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
“It was like a punch in the gut,” Parach said, remembering her mom was supposed to visit her after her doctor’s appointment.
“It was a devastating diagnosis,” Parach said.
Parach said her mother was aggressive about fighting the cancer, enrolling in trial drug tests and enduring chemotherapy treatments.
But, Wanda Bilec died just 11 months after she was diagnosed.
Now, Parach and her family are fighting to improve the odds of surviving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis past five years, odds that have increased by only 1 percent from 7.7 percent over a decade ago.
Founding the Wanda Bilec for Pancreatic Cancer Foundation in 2010, the Bilec family has worked to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer and has helped families across Pennsylvania. Since its inception, the foundation has raised more than $100,000, Parach said.
The money raised by the foundation has gone to the national Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and physicians and researchers at Beth Israel Harvard Medical Center and a cancer center at Jefferson Health hospital in Philadelphia.
Pancreatic cancer doesn’t have a preventative test and there is no early detection, Parach said. This year, the National Cancer Society estimates about 45,750 people will die from pancreatic cancer.
“Every time I want to give up, I meet someone who encourages me,” Parach said.
Over the past 10 years, the non-profit has helped reunite a soldier with his family after a family member was diagnosed, arranged for a father to walk his three daughters down the aisle after he learned he had pancreatic cancer, making it an experience they wouldn’t miss out on when they do get married and donate to a father in need.
Parach’s family makes up the majority of the non-profit’s board and her son, Matthew, has raised about $10,000 over the past four years through fundraising events at Downingtown East High School in Chester County.
While the foundation hosts several events like casino and bingo nights, the Bilec Bowl for Pancreatic Cancer was their first event.
“We started it, because it’s where my mom and dad met,” Parach said. “To help him with grieving we started the event.”
Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for kids, including three games, shoes, one food item and a soft drink. Kids under 3 are free.
Those attending the event can also participate in a basket raffle.
The March 10 event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. New Great Valley Lanes is located at 1501 Highwood Avenue in North Versailles.
Megan Tomasic is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 724-850-1203, [email protected] or via Twitter .