CHICAGO -- Laughter is the best medicine.That philosophy uproariously spread across Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, Ill., this past Sunday during the third annual Cure It Comedy event supporting the Cure it Foundation, which was set up in 2011 to provide support to pediatric cancer patients and their families.Pat McGann
CHICAGO -- Laughter is the best medicine.
That philosophy uproariously spread across Zanies Comedy Club in Rosemont, Ill., this past Sunday during the third annual Cure It Comedy event supporting the Cure it Foundation, which was set up in 2011 to provide support to pediatric cancer patients and their families.
Pat McGann served as the host and organizer of the fundraising event, which raised approximately $25,000, featuring eight performers and numerous live auction and silent auction items. It's also a cause close to McGann, his wife, Sara, and their three children, Josephine, Elliot and Luke, ranging in age from 5 to 3.
For starters, McGann is a talented comedian who recently appeared on the "Late Show with Stephen Colbert." He also has a connection to the White Sox through hosting his White Sox-themed podcast called The Cycle, hosting SoxFest seminars and his fandom as a Chicago native.
But pediatric cancer has touched the McGanns, as 4-year-old Elliot was diagnosed with leukemia three years ago on the day after Thanksgiving. This comedy show originally was set up for the McGann family by Pat's friends in the Chicago comedy community.
"They came to us and said, 'We want to do something special for you guys,' and they did this show and they all volunteered their time," McGann said after Sunday's show before a sold-out crowd of 296. "The first one was really kind of for us.
"We thought, 'What can we do to give back and help out these kids and these families?' Knowing a bunch of great comics in Chicago and knowing these people here in Zanies, they were cool with us using this space. We thought, 'Let's help out other families going through what we are going through.'"
Elliot's first signs of illness were petechial or pinpoint bruising. He was on an antibiotic for an ear infection at the time, so the McGanns originally thought it was a reaction to the medicine.
When Elliot woke up the morning after Thanksgiving with another bump on his head and seemed lethargic, the McGanns immediately took him to the doctor.
"It was the highest white blood cell count they had ever seen," McGann said.
"As soon as we brought him to the pediatrician, they knew it was leukemia and they gave the ER a heads-up," Sara said. "He got the fast track. He was really, really sick."
During a second procedure to spin out the white blood cells, Elliot was unconscious for five days. Pat and Sara felt as if they weren't living in the real world.
Flash forward to 2017, and Elliot's prognosis is outstanding.
"It's incredible what he's doing now," Pat said. "He's in preschool and learning so much and such a social kid. He's got a sweet heart. He's a very kind and thoughtful kid.
"I'm so grateful, but here's the thing: It's a constant. It's never going to go away. He had a fever this past week and it scares the hell out of us. You are always scared, but he's doing really well."
The White Sox were of great help to the McGanns, according to Pat, donating items and experiences as soon as the first Cure It Comedy event. They even gave Elliot a chance to throw out a first pitch to Lucas Giolito before a Sept. 1 game on Childhood Cancer Awareness Night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Shortstop Tim Anderson designed special cleats with Elliot the day before the game. Anderson wore the cleats and then sent them to Elliot. The McGanns are grateful to be in the position they are in, and they are sharing that gratefulness with others through laughter and humor.
"I love bringing levity to these significant serious causes because it just helps," Sara said. "It helps because it is very daunting and sad. We are in a good place but there are so many parents and families that aren't with so many things and not just cancer."
"This is a lifelong battle. It's like a new normal, right," said Dr. Jason Canner, who founded the Cure It Foundation. "So, this family specifically is taking their new normal. They've had obstacles to overcome but they have and they continue to find it because what choice do we have as parents."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.