Reed-Custer CARES


Welcome to the Reed-Custer Cares web page.  The Reed-Custer School District stands together as ONE to support those in need.  Our motto is Strength in Numbers.  Helen Keller communicated, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  We ask that you browse through the information below and join us in spirit as we support the following individuals during difficult times.  Our Reed-Custer Cares causes are listed below in alphabetical order.

Braedan Belcher

​​Braedan Belcher was born with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. His journey began with his first surgery when he was only 3 1/2 days old. His second surgery was at 3 months old, and his third surgery took place when he was 2.  Braedan is now 9 years old and had another surgery to repair his leaky tricuspid valve on November 2, 2015.  Although his surgery seemed to be a success at first, his heart did not respond well. He is at a point now where the ONLY option will be a heart transplant. The doctors at Lurie Children's Hospital are not optimistic that he will be able to go home before they find him a heart. His mom and dad (Lisa and Larry) both work full time, but his mom will not be able to return to work right now. She will need to be at Braedan's bedside during this process. Braedan is a 4th grade student at Reed-Custer Intermediate School. He misses being at school, misses his friends, and just misses being able to be a kid.  The Reed-Custer CARES group supports Braedan and his family during this difficult period.  

Reed-Custer Intermediate School held a benefit on April 27, 2016.

9/18/19 Update - Braedan is starting 8th grade this school year. He encroached his 3 years post heart transplant date on June 15, 2019 and is doing awesome!! His doctor appointments have been spaced further apart, which

is always a good sign. If you would like to continue seeing updates, there is a facebook page ‘Hugs and A Heart for Braedan’ if you would like to follow his story.

He had a busy summer traveling to Florida. He got to visit Disney World and Legoland!

Braedan is still on a mission to collect 1 MILLION POP TABS to support The Ronald McDonald House. 

If you would like to support Braedan in his effort, please contact his mom Lisa 

([email protected]) to arrange pickup.

Megan Bugg​​

​​Megan Bugg is the daughter of Kent and Deb Bugg.  Deb has been a teacher with the Reed-Custer School District since 1987.  She has touched the lives of thousands of students and families during her tenure as a Reed-Custer High School teacher.  Megan has been battling Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma since December 26, 2014.

​Megan recently completed an experimental chemotherapy treatment for her third relapse with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma.  Including this relapse, she had been through 120 weeks of chemotherapy and over 100 proton radiation treatments over the past five years.  Megan's most recent scans were completed in November, 2019 and they showed no evidence of disease.  As a result, her doctors officially declared her in remission and her next scans will not take place until February, 2020.  Throughout all of her treatments, Megan is still passionately advocating for childhood cancer awareness and to increase federal funding for childhood cancer research.  She has been the keynote speaker at the Cal’s Angels annual childhood cancer fundraising gala in St. Charles.  She was also chosen as one of three 2018 Grundy County Women of Distinction award recipients.  She was also named 2019 American Red Cross Youth Hero!  In late September, she attended Curefest in Washington, D.C. to lead a group of advocates on a march to the Capitol to raise awareness for childhood cancer.  She also continues her fundraising efforts for childhood cancer through her Circle of Friends page via Luries Children’s Hospital where to date she has raised over $190,000.  She is also working with the Gateway Foundation on a potential clinical trial focused on an innovative treatment for relapsed Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma.  In her down time, Megan works at the Broadway Dance Studio in Diamond and loves spending time with her beloved pets.

Tax Deductible donations to support childhood cancer research can be made by clicking here.​

Updates are provided through the following blog:  Megan Buggs' Journey​

Aiden Corcorcan​​

A​iden Corcoran is a current Reed-Custer Middle School student. Aiden Corcoran’s journey with cystic Fibrosis was not discovered until he was hospitalized for liver cirrhosis by the age of four and one half years of age.  Cystic Fibrosis affects more than 30,000 kids and young adults in America.  One of our very own RC students, Aiden Corcoran is among this group. 

Cystic Fibrosis a genetic disorder that affects the exocrine glands. It causes the production of abnormally thick mucus, leading to the blockage of the pancreatic ducts, intestines, and bronchi and often resulting in respiratory infection.  Its function is important to proper functioning of multiple organs and systems including the lungs, respiratory tract, pancreas, liver, gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract and sweat glands.

With Cystic Fibrosis, this has led to multiple hospitalizations that stemmed from acute pulmonary infections and nutritional malabsorption issues creating severe abdominal pain.  The nutritional malabsorption leads to intermittent fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies which could lead to growth failure.  

Aiden truly is a trooper and enjoys going for bike rides, building Legos, video gaming, jumping on the trampoline and surrounding himself with his friends and family.​ 

Stevie Croarkin​ Kelly Croarkin is a freshman and Colin Croarkin is a seventh grader at Reed-Custer CUSD 255. Their brother, Stevie Croarkin, has cerebral palsy; he can’t speak, walk, or take care of himself. The Croarkin family needs a reliable vehicle that can accommodate all five family members and Stevie’s wheelchair. A new vehicle would ensure Stevie can travel regularly from his home in Essex to his doctor visits, help his brother and sister join extra-curricular activities, and provide his family with the means to travel and connect with grandparents. The Croarkin family is thankful that Reed-Custer CARES is willing to help communicate their need – a donation of any size is greatly appreciated.

Joey Curry​ Joseph Edward Curry IV left us suddenly on January 3, 2020, Joey (Munch) was born November 22, 2006 in Joliet IL. He attended Reed Custer Middle School and excelled in everything he did. At age 13 he leaves behind Father Joseph Curry III, Mother Amber Curry, his Sister Mackenzie Curry and many other family members. Joey loved playing his Cornet, gaming, and most of all Munch and Mack were an inseparable force. His life was full of love from Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, and Cousins, this love was unlike any other and he now loves us from heaven. Joey will forever be in our thoughts and will always be here with us. We will be having a viewing at Blackburn-Giegerich-Sonntag Funeral Home 1500 Black Road Joliet Il. 60435, (815)744-4444. Viewing will be from 3-7 pm on January 8, 2020 with a short service to follow, afterwards Joey will be resting comfortably at home.​​


Aidan Demarah​​ ​Kelsey Demarah, a Speech pathologist who has worked in the Reed Custer School District for the past 16 years, has a son who is getting ready to undergo major bladder surgery on Monday, December 16th at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. Her son Aidan was diagnosed at birth with Bladder Extrophy which has made him incontinent for the past 17 years. The family has waited a long time for Aidan to decide when he was ready for this corrective surgery. The time has come and the family would love your thoughts and prayers during this trying surgery which will last 12 hours and a week in the hospital. Aidan will be released (hopefully before Christmas) with a challenging recovery and the new task of learning how to catheterize for the rest of his life. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.


Zach Hall​

​On September 11th, 2018 Zach was diagnosed with a macroadenoma tumor (aka germinoma or germ cell tumor) on his pituitary gland, just behind his right eye. The tumor has been there for quite a long time, but doctors don't know how long. His dad noticed something was wrong while they were at work the day before. Zach's right eye had dropped to a slant and he was having blurred and double vision along with pain. His mom took him to the ER and they did a CT scan and it showed a mass near his brain. 

The following day he went to see a neurologist and he diagnosed him with a tumor and immediately put him in ICU at St. Joes. He had surgery on Sept 12 to remove part of it. They went up through his nose to remove the tumor, so no cutting on his head. They did not remove the whole thing because they said it was too risky, especially if they hit his cranial and/or optical nerve then it could have cause permanent vision loss in his right eye. It has caused pressure on his eye, his hormones were almost completely shut down, loss of appetite and weight, excessive thirst, dehydration, headaches, and fatigue. The tumor was not allowing his body to absorb anything, his electrolytes and sodium levels were very low because everything he drank went right through him causing him to be dehydrated all the time. This is why he passed out while he was in boot camp. His neurologist (and former Marine) said if he had stayed in boot camp they would have never caught it in time. His urine output was higher than his fluid intake. This has caused him to develop diabetes insipidus (totally different that diabetes 1 & 2). While In the hospital he was given steroids to help with his hormones, but this sometimes cause his blood sugar to rise so they had to give him insulin shots. Also, he was getting shots in his stomach to control the diabetes insipidus (Basically to stop him from peeing so much. It allowed his body to absorb the fluids he was drinking). He is still currently taking these meds and might have to for a long time. 

He was released Sept 15 and now our next step is to get rid of the remaining tumor. It has to be removed or it will eventually just keep growing. On September 25th he had an appointment with his neurosurgeon and the results of the tumor are malignant, meaning it is continuing to grow. It is NOT cancerous, however if it is not treated in time it will turn into cancer as it grows. He will be starting radiation and chemo treatments very soon at the University of Chicago. He will have anywhere between 16-25 treatments. 

Update 9-19-19:

As of January 30, 2019, Zach has been in remission from his cancer. His family is very thankful that his cancer was not aggressive, however he has suffered 3 different diseases as a result of his brain tumor: Adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, and diabetes insipidus. All of these are controlled by medications and can be life threatening if not properly treated. He is currently working full time and is doing great thanks to his team of doctors at St. Jude in Memphis, TN. He will continue to be rechecked every 3 months for the next 2 years, with his next visit being Nov 4-7. We learn to take one day at a time. His family thanks you for all of your support! ​

Austin Jones​

I (Kathy Jones, School Nurse) spent Christmas break at Austin’s bedside at the Memorial Hospital South Bend, IN.  Austin is progressing slowly. Doctor shared that it will take about a year to progress through  the traumatic brain injury (TBI). His diagnosis was diffuse axonal injury which involves the whole brain with loss of consciousness. He initially had emergency surgery for the blown diaphragm, and put all of  his vital organs back in place. H also had a chest tube insertion to “inflate” the lung as he sustained left sided rib fractures. After 2 & ½ weeks, another surgery was performed due to the shattered pelvis which was taken care of by a plate and 6 screws implanted for stability.  Austin’s left side of his body remains flaccid.  Austin goes in and out of a stupor.  He sleeps for 24 hrs and then he is responsive for 2 days, then the cycle repeats itself. He cannot speak clearly and has difficulty with tongue movement, thus the issue of nutritional intake.  He has had 2 swallow studies performed.  There was an insertion of a  Dobb Hoof “feeding” tube to give him the nutrients needed for healing.  He has lost 50% of his body mass and now has been recommended for a J-peg “feeding” tube insertion directly into the stomach. We are awaiting the surgeons call for when this will be performed. 

On the bright side, Austin may not be able to tell the year but he does know his parents!  Austin is using the oxygen via nasal cannula periodically and is able to keep his oxygen saturations up in the low 90’s.  All of his surgical sites are healing well too.  He had his first hallucination (brain trying to reconnect) yesterday…and it was about kitten’s climbing the wall. He kept on asking if they were real.  The doctors & NP’s shared that his recovery will take about a year. 

I want to take this moment to thank all of my RC family for your support, prayers, cards and texts.  The Trauma dr’s are hopeful that his nutritional status improves, he can be moved to a Rehab Hospital in Illinois, which the trauma social worker is currently working on. It is with time all will heal.​​
Kaitlin Mills​

Kaitlin Millis is a 2015 Reed-Custer Graduate.  She was an honor student and played trumpet in the band.  Toward the end of 2016, Kaitlin suddenly became short of breath, making it difficult to walk to her car, or upstairs to her bedroom.  Sometimes she would lose consciousness and faint.  In October 2016, at the age of 19, she was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.  PH for short, is a rare disease which had no treatments until the 90’s.  There are many causes of PH, many which are autoimmune diseases. Kaitlin was tested and didn’t have any of them.  This disease causes the blood vessels in the lungs to narrow over time, making the heart work harder to get blood into the lungs, eventually causing heart failure.  The average life expectancy without a transplant is 7 years. 

Kaitlin was diagnosed with heart failure in December 2019, four years from her initial diagnosis.  Kaitlin has had to endure numerous invasive procedures, several hospitalizations (one even being over Christmas). She has been on dozens of medications. Specifically, one medication was administered via pump she carried in a Fannie Pack 24/7.  The cost of that alone was $20,000 a bottle (which only lasted a couple weeks).  Of course the medications came with terrible side effects, including migraines, gastrointestinal issues, and fatigue.  She has been on oxygen for the last year. 

Through all of this Kaitlin has continued to go to school to realize her dream of being a High School English Teacher. 

On October 21, 2020, Kaitlin was added to the lung transplant list at Northwest Memorial in downtown Chicago.  Three short weeks later, she received the call. On November 11, 2020 (Veteran’s Day), we dropped Kaitlin off at the ER of Northwest Memorial.  Due to COVID, she had to go in alone.  On November 12, after many hours in surgery, she received her new lungs.  Kaitlin and her family are so incredibly thankful for the donor and the donor’s family, and hope someday to pay it forward.  Kaitlin is in ICU on a ventilator but they are hoping to remove her from it sometime today.  She will spend weeks in the hospital.  Once she is discharged, she will live with family who live fairly close to the hospital for several months.  With 24-hour caregiving, and about 20 different medications, most for the rest of her life, she has a long road ahead but is up for the challenge.  Full recovery will take about a year.​​


Kim Solley ​​​Kim Solley, a bus driver for the Reed-Custer School District, died suddenly in July at the young age of 59.  Her two grandkids, Damien and Sadie Andrade, were living with her.  Damien is in 5th grade at Reed-Custer Elementary School, and Sadie is currently a 4th grader at RCES.  The entire RC family mourns the loss of Kim, as she was many of the student’s favorite bus driver.  She was a dedicated employee, caring bus driver, and loving grandma.   Fortunately, Damien and Sadie will be living with and cared for by their grandfather, Mr. Dave Slager.  Reed-Custer Cares sends our thoughts to Damien, Sadie, and all of Kim’s family. ​


Lexi Spray ​Lexi Spray is the da​ughter of Bill and Andrea Spray.  Andrea is a former Reed-Custer School District teacher.  Andrea first taught 5th grade, and has spent most of her years with the district as a dedicated 2nd grade teacher at Reed-Custer Intermediate S​chool, where she has helped to build the educational foundations of many students.  In July of 2014, Lexi was diagnosed with Langerhan’s Cell Histocytosis.  In August of 2015, Lexi completed her treatment.  The first ​​​scans showed no new growth.  At her six month check-up, the scans showed several new spots.  This resulted in Lexi beginning a new round of treatment beginning in February.  She is receiving two different types of chemotherapy for five days each month.  This treatment will be ongoing for one year.  The Spray family appreciates the positive thoughts and prayers from the Reed-Custer CARES group.​


Michael Wilkey​ ​We lost a freshman student, Michael Wilkey to an unfortunate accident on December 27th 2017.  Michael was an energetic and caring person who was loved by many.  He loved to be with his family and friends and really enjoyed spending time outdoors.  Michael wanted to be a carpenter and enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back ​together. He was a very hard worker who wanted to do nothing else but to get good grades.  His infectious smile and bubbly personality will be missed by the RC family.  Here is a link to the family’s go fund me page & a news article​ related to the tragic incident.​


Zebell Family

Steven Zebell, age 43, a parent in the Reed-Custer School District passed away unexpectedly in August of 2018. 

Steven & Crystal have three daughters: Gabrean Grundin (Steven's step-daughter) 19 lives in FL., Zeyda 12 and Skylar 10 live at home & attend Reed- Custer Schools.  Steven has been the sole provider for the past two years. He was employed with Ace ​Hardware in Braidwood, IL as the Assistant Manager. He loved family outings, playing video games with his girls, watching movies with his family.  

There has been a Go Fund Me set up to help the family with expenses.