GRANITE CITY — Maria Christina “Tina” Anderton was thrilled when she walked into Champion’s Bar and Grill, 3304 W. Chain of Rocks Road, on the afternoon of July 16.
The Granite City resident got to see a large crowd of people attend her fundraising event at the sports bar. Her husband, Michael, her parents — Dominico and Antonia — and one of her best friends, Joline Lee, were among the people in attendance.
“I’m grateful that everybody’s here,” Anderton said.
Two months ago, Anderton was diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer. So Lee decided to organize the fundraising vendor event at Champion’s.
The Andertons are trying to raise $7,000 to help pay for the cancer treatment.
“It’s a big financial stress on them right now,” Lee said. “In order to keep her (Tina) fighting, I’m trying to relieve some of that from them. So we’ve thrown this big vendor event together.”
After five hours, the event raised over $1,800. T-shirts and tacos were among the items sold.
“I’m so happy with that because I didn’t know there are so many good people out there,” Michael Anderton said.
Two more fundraisers are scheduled within the next couple of weeks. There will be a drawing for a pair of $900 earrings or $900 of store credit at Luna Café in Mitchell at 9 p.m. on Friday, July 29. Also, there will be a fundraiser from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at Pizza World, where 10 percent of the sales will be donated.
Michael has high hopes his wife will be cancer-free.
“With the grace of God, we’re going to beat it,” Michael said.
Tina Anderton, 46, has been living in Granite City since 2004. Born in Sicily, she grew up in Heidelberg, Germany, for most of her life.
She met Michael in Germany in 1998 and the couple got married 16 years later.
“We love each other and support each other, good days and bad days,” said Tina, who has two sons, Francisco and Dominic.
Lee has been a friend of the Andertons for seven years. She met them at Luna Café.
“Both of them are really good and down to earth,” Lee said. “Both of them are really sweet people and would do anything in the world and not ask for any help, always helping others.”
Anderton, a licensed beautician, had been working at Kraft Foods before her illness.
“She started working there in 2007 and recently because of the cancer, she had to stop working,” Michael Anderton said. “She lost all use of her arm and use of her leg and I took her to the hospital thinking that she had a stroke. So they determined that she had Stage 4 brain/lung/kidney cancer.”
Anderton started having problems while going to work in May.
“She was going to work and all of the sudden, she was using her left blinker,” Lee said. “She noticed that she couldn’t lift her arm. It wasn’t even lifting. So she realized that something was wrong. She decided to go ahead and go to work. She thought it was a pinched nerve. Then she noticed that she couldn’t pick anything up, so she went ahead and told them she has to go home for the night because she was having problems.”
Anderton went to the hospital and found out she had nine tumors in her brain.
“They started doing some other tests and that’s when they found out it was cancer in the brain,” Lee said. “During that CAT scan and everything, they found it had spread quite a bit.”
Champion’s opened in October and has hosted two fundraisers.
“We’re all about trying to help out,” owner Tim Stephens said.
Lee said she decided to have the fundraiser at Champion’s because she’s known Stephens for a long time.
“We were going to do this for cystic fibrosis and that’s what Tim, the owner, decided to do the fundraiser for,” the 41-year-old Lee said. “But when we found out about Tina, I called up Tim and said, ‘Hey, I know I gave you the choice to pick what donation was going to be for this vendor event I was doing. But a local lady needs help and she’s a friend of mine. Do you mind if you do that?’ He said, ‘No, not at all.’ So he has helped out tremendously.”
Lee said Anderton already has made a wish.
“The only thing she told me was she wanted to get together with her friends and dance one more time and she wants to make it until Christmas,” Lee said. “That’s what she told me last week. That’s all she’s hoping for. I told her we’re going to make it go farther than that and we’re going to get this.”
Anderton, whose birthday is Jan. 4, said there are three things everybody needs in life.
“You’ve got friends, you’ve got family and you’ve got hope,” Anderton said. “Nothing else. When you don’t got that, you’ve got nothing.”