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Arlington Heights Mayor Mulder’s Public Health Initiative Beats Breast Cancer

July 25, 2005


When The United States Conference of Mayors launched the Mayors’ Campaign Against Breast Cancer in 1997, Arlington Heights (IL) Mayor Arlene Mulder was one of the first mayors to sign on. When the Mayors’ Coalition for Prostate Cancer Awareness and Education was established by the Conference of Mayors in 2000, Mulder again was there at the beginning. Her commitment to breast and prostate cancer awareness led Mulder to develop community initiatives to address all cancers under the umbrella program “Arlington Heights Beats Cancer (ABC).” Nationally, Mulder is one of almost 250 mayors who are part of the Conference of Mayors Cancer Awareness Program.

Arlington Heights Beats Cancer

To reach her constituents with her early detection message, Mulder appointed the ABC Committee that operates under her direction. This body is composed of the following community representatives:

  • Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce;

  • Arlington Heights Memorial Library;

  • High School District 214;

  • Grade School District 25;

  • Northwest Community Hospital;

  • Arlington Heights Park District;

  • Arlington Heights Health Department (including the Senior Center and Teen Center);

  • community physicians and residents; and

  • American Cancer Society.

Expanding the Mission

The ABC Committee adopted the long-term American Cancer Society goal to reduce cancer by 25 percent by the year 2015, pledging a year of the city’s efforts toward this objective. While always vigilant about publicizing the importance of cancer screening at every community event, the ABC committee realized that it was time to pursue alternative avenues to expand outreach on cancer prevention and education. Many exciting outcomes were achieved, prompting press coverage by the local newspaper, the Daily Herald, which furthered the Committee’s cause.

Reaching Adults through the Schools

In May, Dr. Liz Ennis and Dr. Alan Simon – local school superintendents – encouraged parents and grandparents to make screening appointments, presenting the American Cancer Society’s screening guidelines at the annual School District 25 Duck Race fundraiser. Many adults showed their commitment to follow through by signing a pledge card. Mulder was also on hand at the event, using her public role as emcee to encourage parents and grandparents alike to take time for themselves and get screened. Over 500 people were present at that event.

Through the efforts of Maureen Seleski, Healthy Aging Coordinator from Northwest Community Hospital, bookmarks were created presenting the American Cancer Society’s screening guidelines and health tips. Ennis saw to the production of the bookmarks. These mini-health guides continue to be distributed through the hospital, library, village hall, and senior center.

Listening to Survivors

With the help of Deb Whisler from the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Kari Van Grinsven––Senior Center Coordinator and cancer survivor—created a powerful display at the Library celebrating cancer survivors in our community. This highly visible display provided encouragement to many fighting cancer, and also served as a reminder to the rest of the community that early detection is key to survival.

Mayor Addresses Prostate and Lung Cancers

Mulder recorded a public service announcement to encourage prostate cancer screening that was played on a popular sports radio station, reaching thousands of men in the Chicago-land area. Mulder also issued a proclamation strongly encouraging the community to seek smoking-cessation support on National Tobacco Free Day, November 18th.

Intergenerational Anti-Smoking Commercial

Lastly, and probably the most enjoyable event, an intergenerational video contest was put together by Senior Center Director, Karen Hansen, and Teen Center Director, Mike Clingingsmith. Students from the local middle and high schools were eligible to enter this contest. Their mission was to develop a one-minute commercial about anti'smoking and tobacco. These students could work on their own or in teams of up to four students. Twelve videos were received by the deadline, and the ABC committee members met to check the videos for accuracy. Students judged the videos and––thanks to the generous contribution of Ken Unger representing the Chamber of Commerce––the winning students each received a $100 savings bond for both the middle and high school winners. The video is shown on the local cable station.

Success through Local Commitment

Mulder would like to recognize and thank the members of ABC Committee for their hard work during the year. These members include: Patricia Stack, NCH Radiology Director; Maureen Selesky, Healthy Aging Director; Dr. Alan Simon, School District 25; Dr. Elizabeth Ennis, School District 214; Dr. John Sage, Dr. William Kuhn, and Deb Whisler, Arlington Heights Memorial Library; John Glueckert, Arlington Heights Park District; Ken Unger, Chamber of Commerce; Karen Hansen and Kari VanGrinsven, Arlington Heights Senior Center; Mike Clingingsmith, Arlington Heights Teen Center; and Janie Langfeld, American Cancer Society.

In summing up this year’s cancer awareness effort, Mulder said, “Mayors can contribute so much to the health of their citizens by promoting cancer awareness and emphasizing the importance of early detection of this disease. However, a public health initiative, such as “Arlington Heights Beats Cancer,” succeeds only with community commitment to the cause. I am fortunate that the citizens of Arlington Heights have the same zeal for good health that I do.”