‘Walk By Faith’ returns to Quad Cities as mission to end Childhood Cancer continues


ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (May 24) — After a successful inaugural outing in their hometown of Rock Island, Tony and Amber Bender will return to Illinois on September 22 to host the second annual Walk By Faith Quad Cities benefitting childhood cancer research.

After meeting at Rock Island High School and later marrying and starting a family in Kingwood, Texas, the Benders suffered the ultimate nightmare in December of 2007 when their daughter, Addison Faith, died from two brain tumors. She was a month shy of her second birthday.

Tony and Amber Bender with cancer survivor Sammy Hodgett and family. Photo by Missy Myers

As soon as Addison was diagnosed and the Bender’s began researching pediatric cancer, they quickly found a dismal survival rate for most children diagnosed with the disease. They decided to start Addi’s Faith Foundation with a goal of raising funding specifically for childhood cancer, letting the general public know that less than four percent of research dollars involve childhood cancers, and helping families who were dealing with their own children’s cancer issues.

To date, the Benders have raised $1.7 million in the Greater Houston Area through their primary annual Walk By Faith at the University of Houston as well as each year’s Addi Shack Golf Tournament. Their success in Texas prompted the Bender’s to take their fundraising on the road, and their hometown of Rock Island was the perfect starting point.

“We’ve been so blessed with the support we’ve gotten in Texas but we should point out that each year a chunk of that money has come from our many friends in the Quad Cities,” Amber said. “Over the years, many of them have flown down to participate in our Walk By Faith and Addi Shack events and after talking with them, and hearing how much our friends here were willing to help, we decided to take it on the road.

“Last year was awesome, even though it was a rainy day, and we ended up raising $28,000, which we kept in the Quad Cities in research grants and to help families here that were dealing with the same thing Tony and I faced with Addison. This year we’re hoping for better weather and an even larger turnout so we can help even more people in the area.”

True to their mission, the foundation used some of the funds raised at last year’s event to help a couple of very special local families. One family desperately needed some car repairs done so they could safely take their 11 month old daughter Talynn for brain tumor treatment at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City.

Likewise, the cost of Wilms Tumor treatments for 17-month-old Mariah from Muscatine, Iowa, pushed her single-parent father to the breaking point mostly due to the time he took off work to help his little girl. Proceeds from the Walk by Faith Quad Cities allowed Addi’s Faith Foundation to pay two month’s rent, which gave dad a little breathing room.

This year’s second annual Walk By Faith Quad Cities will again take place from 8:30 a.m.-noon at the Niabi Zoo, located at 13010 Niabi Zoo Road in Coal Valley, Ill. Participants signing up before the event will get a discounted rate of $20 for adults and $15 for children. The price includes a T-shirt, swag bag, admission to the zoo for the day, and an Addi’s Faith celebration complete with snacks, festive music, an awesome kid’s zone with inflatables, face-painting and much more.

Interested parties are encouraged to sign up now at  www.WalkByFaithQC.org. Anyone referring five of more participants will get their registration fee refunded.

Event sponsorships are also available. Last year, Dohrn Transfer, GroupO, The Jabanoski Family, Dr. Christopher Cannon, c5mi, Cross Concrete, United Healthcare and many others provided funding for the Walk By Faith Quad Cities.


Sara Tilkens speaks to the crowd about their journey. Photo by Nicole Willits
Team “Shine On” walking in the rain. Photo by Missy Myers