Unconvential shirts sold at Relay for Life

By Danny Ciamprone

In the fall of 2009, Sycamore resident Ian Steczo’s best friend lost his life to colon cancer.

One week before that, his father was diagnosed with lung cancer and given six months to live.

“It’s just like an impending doom when they give you a time limit,” Steczo said. “I swear you can’t find one person who isn’t affected by cancer, whether it’s a friend or a family member. It’s ridiculous.”

Then in 2010, Steczo was asked to come up with a fundraiser idea to help out with Relay for Life in DeKalb.

“I thought of a funny T-shirt that would say, ‘Cancer Blows,’ and do it in the style of a blow pop,” Steczo said.

At the event, 120 T-shirts were sold in 90 minutes. Steczo said he saw phenomenal reactions from people and the enthusiasm was unbelievable. Being able to give back to the cancer community and help fund cancer research was the most rewarding part, Steczo said.

“I kind of felt helpless in the fall of 2009, and so did my whole family,” Steczo said. “Cancer was new to us and we didn’t know how to deal with it. Making these shirts and selling them to people to help cancer research was definitely a way to cope and give me the feeling that I am fighting back.”

After seeing the reaction, Steczo developed the idea to start the Cancer Blows company and sell the shirts nationwide.

He partnered with Parachute Media which handles all the shipping. The website cancerblows.com was launched on Feb. 16.

Junior nutrition major Jackie Wojciechowski liked the fundraiser idea.

“I think I would definitely buy one,” Wojciechowski said. “I think it’s a cool idea because it’s different.”

Senior nutrition major Katie Kleppe said she disagreed, but said she was still impressed by the cause.

“I don’t think I’d buy a shirt because it’s kind of like complaining about it,” Kleppe said. “We know it does, but that doesn’t mean we have to wear a shirt about it. However, I think it’s a really positive thing what he’s doing for cancer.”

Currently, Steczo has gone back to school at Southern Illinois University to obtain a marketing degree, but still runs the company.

“The ultimate goal is to become an apparel company,” Steczo said. “The more money we make as a company the more money we donate to the American Cancer Society. We want to be known nationwide and I don’t see at any level being satisfied, I want to keep growing and growing.”