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Cancer-fighting teen fundraising for ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip

Contributions for Kevin Junge’s trip to Europe may be made online at Delegate last name − Junge. Delegate ID − 10169653.

Of all the sites Kevin Junge hopes to explore on a tour of Europe this summer, he most wants to see the old building in Amsterdam where teenager Anne Frank hid from Nazi persecution during World War II.

Like Frank, Junge knows something abut loneliness, fear and loss. Diagnosed with bone cancer in 2010, he has been hospitalized more than 30 times, undergone 21 surgeries and 22 weeks of chemotherapy. Like Frank, the 16-year-old aches to see something of the world, while he still can, but he needs help to make the trip.

A junior at Zion-Benton Township High School, Junge hopes to raise enough money to travel to Europe this summer through the People to People Ambassador program and to take along his cousin, Todd Voss, 15, of Waukegan. Voss will act as Junge’s personal aide during the 20-day trip. Junge, an A student who hopes for a career as an oncology nurse, needs an aide because he walks with a cane and sometimes must use a wheelchair due to recent surgeries for bone and joint replacements.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip,” said Junge, who will also visit famous sites including Buckingham Palace in London and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. He will stay with a German family and climb, with assistance from Todd, the Swiss Alps.

The fundraiser will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at Culver’s of Zion, 3335 Sheridan Road. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of every tab when customers mention Kevin or show a flier for the benefit. For $1, participants can spin a prize wheel and drawings more prizes will be offered by the Junge family. The ZBTHS Honor Society will volunteer during the event.

“The community has been so supportive and his friends at school have been awesome,” said Mary Junge, Kevin’s mother. “He’s been very brave and his spirits are usually high.”

People to People was founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956 as a way to give American students new cultural experiences. The Junges need to raise $4,500 to cover tuition and expenses for both boys.

“Kevin is a pretty strong fighter,” said Todd, who traveled to Australia with People to People last year. “He’s fun to hang out with.”

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