About Our Emcees: Jon Elenius

Kids With Courage

About Our Emcees: Jon Elenius

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Kids with Courage V emcee Jon EleniusWhen Jon Elenius was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma, or cancer of the lymph glands, he was given a prognosis of six months to one year to live.

That was more than 41 years ago, when Elenius was a 9-year-old boy growing up in Waupun, Wisconsin.

“My parents told me that I had tumors, but they did not say the word ‘cancer,’" he recalls. “I learned that I had cancer from a kid on the playground.”

Elenius more than beat the steep odds he was given in 1972. Today, at age 51, he is a successful attorney in Chicago who is incredibly grateful to be alive. He is also looking forward to this fall’s “Kids With Courage” reunion of childhood cancer survivors that will be held September 29 in Wisconsin Dells.

More than 1,000 survivors, siblings, parents, grandparents and other family members are expected to attend this incredible celebration of life and recent medical advances in treating childhood cancer.

Launched in 1993, Kids With Courage is a day-long event attended by current and former pediatric cancer patients at the UW’s American Family Children’s Hospital. Supermodel Cindy Crawford, who lost a little brother, Jeffrey, to leukemia in the 1970s, plays a prominent role at each “Kids With Courage” reunion, which is hosted by the University of Wisconsin Division of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant, American Family Children’s Hospital and the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

One of six emcees for the 2013 Kids With Courage event, Elenius is also one of the longest-living pediatric cancer survivors treated at the University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital or its successor, American Family Children’s Hospital.

“There is nothing special about me versus some of the kids I remember who did not make it,” Elenius says. “I just know that I had great medical care, good luck and loving parents – both of whom, at ages 80 and 81, will be joining me at Kids With Courage in September. I can’t wait.”