Shirlee’s Ultimate Women’s Gym invites you to join Team D-Lad ❤ Shirlee’s at Upland’s Relay for Life on Saturday, May 21 in Magnolia Park. The event raises money for the American Cancer’s Society’s fight against cancer. The team’s name honors gym member Frances Ladner’s son, Daniel (D-Lad), who died from complications of leukemia at 18, as well as Shirlee’s, whose owner, Gary Peterson, died in October 2014, also from leukemia. The gym is now owned by his wife, Konnie Vong, and supports health-related causes.
“We are so proud of our members for helping us to sponsor a ShirleeStrong Team at the Upland Relay for Life in the past couple of years,” said Vong. “Together we raised more than $1,000 each year and we hope to do the same this year.”
The first time cancer struck Frances Ladner’s family was in 1983 when her sister, then 24, was diagnosed with ALL leukemia. “She fought her battle with grace and dignity,” Ladner recalls. “Bobbi was a nurse. She love to take care of others. After a three-year battle, she left us at the age of 27.”
In 2007, cancer struck Ladner’s family again: three times. “My husband was diagnosed with bone cancer in January and was just getting used to the shock and everything that’s goes along with treatment when in March my father was diagnosed with lung cancer,” Frances remembers. “It was quite difficult but we all managed. My husband continues maintenance chemo and my father is an 9-year cancer survivor.”
The third and hardest blow came at the end of that year. “In November our beloved Daniel was 18 and had just started college when I heard the worst news of my life,” she said. “I received a phone call from the doctor that my son’s blood tests showed something very serious. He told me Daniel needed to see an oncologist. My heart dropped.” That afternoon she learned that Daniel had APL leukemia, a rare but treatable cancer. Daniel was admitted into the hospital to start treatment on a Thursday. “We brought everything he needed for a short stay,” she recalls. “But God had other plans. Daniel started having complications on Friday afternoon, which was something no one ever thought would happen because was young and otherwise healthy. He died a few days later.”
Konnie Vong, owner of Shirlee’s Ultimate Women’s Gym, shares a bond with Frances Ladner. Her husband, Gary Peterson, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2011 and died in October 2014. With Konnie’s support, in his last three years Gary put incredible passion into building Shirlee’s into the top-notch gym it is today. Many of us at Shirlee’s, both members and employees, remember Gary for his upbeat attitude, his drive to succeed in all his endeavors, his commitment to health and fitness, and his genuine compassion for others.
Like Frances and Konnie, most of us have felt the blow that cancer strikes, either to ourselves or to a loved one. We have an opportunity to unite and honor those who lives have been touched by cancer by joining team D-Ladner ❤ Shirlee’s. “As Daniel’s mom I’ve made it my fight to stand up and pay it forward so others never have to hear those words, ‘You have cancer,’” said Ladner.
“Shirlee’s is all about supporting each other,” added Vong. “We support each other’s personal fitness goals, and we support our community in the fight against cancer.”
Join Our Team. Registered team members walk around a track and participate in activities during the event, which takes place all day Saturday and into Sunday morning. Team members can camp out overnight. To join the team or to learn more, visit our Relay page.
Make a Contribution. You do not have to attend the relay to help. You can pledge online to our team or drop off a contribution at Shirlee’s front desk. Every single donation counts! If half the members at Shirlee’s gave $5, we would surpass our goal. If you make a donation, you will be entered in our raffle for a great prize.
If you have questions or would like to help our efforts by volunteering, please call Konnie at (909) 985-6400. Thank you.