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Parents are dedicated to fighting the disease that took their daughter

Meg, Dan and Olivia Kresach. (Provided photo)

One year after losing their daughter Olivia to brain cancer, Dan and Meg Kresach are doing everything they can to defeat the killer disease.

This month, Melody Mart in Homewood is hosting its Live For Liv Music-A-Thon to raise money for Voices Against Brain Cancer, a national organization that supports research into the most deadly forms of the disease. Dan is co-owner of the music store, a business cornerstone in downtown Homewood since the 1950s. During April, Melody Mart will donate $1 per student per music lesson to the organization. For new students, Melody Mart will donate $2 per student per lesson.

The Kresachs are also helping organize next month’s Voices Run/Walk along the Chicago lakefront. This year’s walk takes place Sunday, May 17 – Olivia’s birthday – and the Kresachs and other organizers hope to raise $300,000 for brain cancer research. Last year’s walk drew 1,200 participants, and an even bigger turnout is expected next month.

Dan and Meg say they are trying to keep their daughter’s memory alive, and to give hope to families whose loved ones are stricken with the disease.

“We miss her,” Meg said. “We keep meeting people who knew her and we learn how she touched their lives.

“She had such a giggle. And she loved to smile.”

Olivia was 22 and the couple’s only child when she died last April 19. She was in her final year at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was studying to be a registered dietician, when she was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a highly aggressive and malignant type of brain tumor that ultimately took her life.

Dan and Meg both grew up in the H-F area but now live in Frankfort. Olivia graduated from Lincoln-Way East High School in 2009. Her parents say she was a lifelong dancer, and member of the Willow Street Dance Company in Mokena. She was a diver in high school and an avid downhill skier. At UIC Olivia took up yoga and eventually became an instructor.

Dan says the money donated at Melody Mart this month will go toward Team Kresach’s contributions at the May 17 run/walk.

“We want to get the donations from the music lessons,” he said. “We also want people to come in to make contributions for the walk. Any amount is good — $1, $2, $20. We also want people to sign up for the walk next month.”

The Kresachs and Voices Against Brain Cancer are working with Rush Medical Center, where Olivia received her treatment, and also Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the University of Chicago Hospital Center, Lurie Children’s Hospital and North Shore Hospital.

“Voices Against Brain Cancer is an organization that is dedicated solely to looking for cures to the toughest types of brain cancer,” Dan said. “Since our daughter’s death we have become very involved in efforts to find a cure. We will be involved until that happens.”

Further information on the May 17 run/walk is available at http://www.voicesinmotion.org/site/TR?fr_id=1291&pg=entry.

Melody Mart, located at 18062 Dixie Highway, has been open in Homewood since 1956. It was started by Joe Kresach, Dan’s father. Its first location was on Martin Avenue, just west of the current store. Dan said a feed store and tavern were located at the store’s current site until they were destroyed in a fire. Melody Mart moved in to its current location in 1958. Dan took over the store when his father died in 1985. He and Jim Donrelly are now partners in the business.

Dan said he believes Melody Mart is one of the three oldest businesses in downtown Homewood.

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