By Marianne Mueller


Six-year Papillary Cancer survivor April Kunzelmen has been reaching out to others in a unique fashion for the past six years. Inspired by her own personal experience Kunzelmen started Chemo Cargo  to help others facing what can result in long, boring and stressful days of chemo therapy.

When Chemo Cargo was first introduced this unique non-profit organization was originally housed in Cannell Corner in Rockton.  After Chemo Cargo began to grow more space was needed to expand on programs and is now relocated in  Roscoe at 11720 Main St.

“Our new location is all on one level with no stairs. At the former location it was more difficult for volunteers,” said Chemo Cargo CEO Kunzelmen. “We also now have a restroom in the building which is a plus that we did not have before.”

Chemo Cargo is continuing on the mission of  providing totes for cancer patients who are going through Chemo Therapy.

Totes are filled by volunteers with personal care items such as lotion, hand sanitzer, a thermometer, puzzle books, notebooks, and a pen to keep track of information received by doctors or nurses, wigs, hats or other head coverings, extra blankets, gum and a toothbrush.

Hand sanitzer is a key component when white blood cell counts are low. Toothbrushes must be changed often, accompanied by reminder notes. A solid 100 bags are kept on hand.

After settling into the new place another option outside of stuffing bags has been added. Volunteers may choose to make inspirational cards to go into the bags. This is offered every four to six weeks.

In the years of Chemo Cargo’s existence hundreds of people have benefited from an extra dose of support through the program. The organization is strictly volunteered based and relies solely on donations to keep the program going.

A series of fundraisers have taken place starting with a golf play day in the first year which kick started Chemo Cargo’s success bringing in over $100,000; much in part to a generous donation given by Tim Storm of Fat Wallet. Moonlight bowling fundraisers and a Tossing for Totes event have brought in thousands of dollars continue good and caring works of  donating  totes.

Members of the Alliance Credit Union raised funds via a “Wear your jeans to work day.” Employees paid to be able to wear jeans in trade for collecting donations to be given to Chemo Cargo.

In June of 2016  “Community against Cancer” in Beloit made a generous donation of $1,000 to help further goals of Chemo Cargo.

Chemo Cargo has developed a beautiful partnership with all four local hospitals in Rockford and Beloit. An estimated 750 patient’s benefit from this service annually.

“We survive on a yearly budget of $25,000 or less, “says Kunzelman. Each tote bag costs around $25 to $30 to fill. In addition to accepting cash donations items to fill tote bags are greatly appreciated.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer is welcome to join in making a difference for others. Work nights happen on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m.

To keep great works of Chemo Cargo flowing golf play day fundraiser is set for Friday, Aug. 26 at the Newburg Village Golf Course.  Entry fees are $50 per golfer which includes greens fees, a cart, a complimentary gift, and lunch following the event. Adding to the fun awards for random finishes will be given. If the event is canceled due to inclement weather the entry fee will be considered a donation to Chemo Cargo. Register online or find out about sponsorship levels and opportunities at SwedishAmerican Regional Cancer Center is the event’s Platinum sponsor.


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