The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

July 17, 2013

Boy plans benefit for ill mother

DANVILLE — When Lori Ostendorf was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, she wondered how she was going to take care of her son, Sebastian Starkey.

Her friends responded: “We’re going to help you as much as we can,” co-worker Heather Eller said.

Even 10-year-old Sebastian jumped in with an idea to help his mother — a fun fair.

Open to all ages, Sebastian’s Fun Fair Fundraiser will be from 2-7 p.m. Sunday in the north pavilion at Westville’s Zamberletti Park.

A variety of activities will be offered, including balloon animals, cupcake walk, bounce house, magic show, face painting and a dunk tank, as well as hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and nachos.

Although the event is geared toward children, adults also may buy refreshments and take part in a cornhole tourney, a silent auction and 50/50 drawing. The auction items include a backpack for every grade level, from kindergarten through high school, stuffed with supplies, and many other items.

Food tickets are $1 each, and children may buy bracelets for $10, which will give them access to the activities.

“There are all kinds of things for kids to do,” Eller said.

Mostly, participants will be helping Ostendorf with her medical and living expenses as she battles lung and brain cancer.

Ostendorf, 45, said she went to the doctor with persistent headaches earlier this year, and tumors were found to be causing the pain. Further tests discovered lung cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes and brain. She has undergone radiation and chemotherapy at Carle Cancer Center, and will restart treatment Thursday.

She’s in Stage 4, but it’s treatable, she said.

When Ostendorf heard the cancer diagnosis, she said, “I just lost it.” The single mom’s first concern was for her son.

Sebastian, a fifth-grader at Edison School, said he’s been taking care of his mother, and he does his part by not complaining about chores, doing laundry and sometimes cooking meals.

Ostendorf also has been trying to continue in her job as a carrier at the Danville Post Office. She worries about using up all of her sick leave and vacation time

Since the diagnosis, her friends and co-workers have held rummage sales and other benefits for her.

Then, her son said, “I want to do something to help my mom,” Eller said.

Beth Kelley, also a post office employee, sat down with Sebastian to help him plan the event.

“He’s got an old soul and he wanted to so something to help his mother,” Kelley said.

The benefit will help the family, provide fun for children and also give Sebastian a chance to have some fun, she said.

And, she added, “He’ll feel like he’s done something for his mom.

Sebastian encourages everyone to come: “I’m just saying … if they could come to the benefit, that would be awesome.”

Like his mother, he appreciates all that people have done for them, saying, “It’s helping me and my mom a lot.”

Osterdorf added, “I really appreciate it a lot — they have no idea what it means to us.”

As for her son’s role in planning a benefit, she said, “I’m very, very proud. I was amazed when Beth told me (about the benefit). It’s amazing what they wanted to do and what they accomplished in less than a week.”


A Facebook page called Sebastian’s Fun Fair Fundraiser has details about the event and photos.

To make donations, go to and type Lori Ostendorf’s name into the search box. Donations will be taken until July 31.

The fundraiser will be 2-7 p.m. Sunday at the Westville Park north pavilion.

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