The Forward4Tobi Foundation was established in 2013 to honor the memory of Tobi Lauren Klonecki, a special wife, mother and friend who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at the young age of 38. With an initial Stage 4 diagnosis only occurring in less than 10% of breast cancer patients and no family history, this diagnosis was both shocking and devastating. During her 4 years living with breast cancer, Tobi continued to live life to the fullest with her husband and two young boys. Some days were better than others but Tobi never felt sorry for the cards she was dealt. She learned how to thrive with this end stage disease- her new ‘normal’. Over the years, Tobi met many women with the same diagnosis but their lives were very different. We heard stories of how some of her ‘mets sisters’ couldn’t afford childcare during or after their chemo treatments. Others struggled to pay their mortgage or buy their life saving medications. Even during her worst days, Tobi thought of herself as ‘lucky’, for she had the family, friends, and financial means to deal with the daily struggles of breast cancer. Tobi would have wanted her legacy to be about helping those who didn’t have the means she had – to help bring out the normal in abnormal. Tobi would have been first in line to pay it forward. With your help, we can all pay it Forward4Tobi.
Our focus is singular; to help breast cancer patients who are struggling financially live a better quality of life. The Forward4Tobi Foundation helps these patients by providing financial assistance for medical expenses, childcare, and other daily, unmet needs so they may focus all of their energy on fighting this insidious disease. We are a 501c(3) charitable organization (EIN# 46-3809966) run entirely by volunteers. This means that 97% of donations go directly into the pockets of patients to ease the financial burden that often comes from living with breast cancer. Our funding is raised through direct donations and by our supporters via various fundraising events. To ensure that Forward4Tobi provides financial assistance to patients that need it the most, we collaborate with medical centers to facilitate the application, evaluation, and distribution of money to the neediest of patients. To date, we’ve established patient assistance ‘funds’ at NorthShore University Health Systems in Evanston, IL ($225,000 gifted) and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA ($260,000 gifted). It is our plan to continue supporting patients at NorthShore and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as we identify additional medical centers that may need the financial support that the Forward4Tobi Foundation can provide. It is our ultimate goal to take away some of the financial burden for as many breast cancer patients and their families as possible. By making their lives a little bit easier, these patients can focus all of their energy on fighting this disease and living life.
Tobi and Tom met in 1998 and were married in 2001. They had two sons together, Matthew and Danny. Through their lives together, they inspired those around them to live in the moment, to give back to others, to find humor in everyday things and cherish every moment. Tom knew Tobi was passionate about creating a foundation that could help breast cancer patients live and continue to build their families, but also knew that took hard work and resources many do not have. Tom is committed to growing the Forward4Tobi Foundation in order to help as many women as possible facing a tough diagnosis live with passion, pride and dignity and continue to raise their families through the help of our foundation.Tom is currently the Fundraising Officer and works with the Foundation’s various fundraising committees to raise awareness for the Foundation and to meet and exceed annual fundraising goals. Tom is an active Director and participant on the Foundation’s Executive Committee.
Jodi currently works as the Director of New Product Development at the College of American Pathologists, a non-profit dedicated to making patients healthier through excellence in pathology and laboratory medicine. A Chicago native, Jodi fell in love with non-profit organizations after being selected as an Apprentice Board Member at the Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, Illinois. Volunteering at the Museum gave her a deep sense of purpose while showing her a tangible way to give back to people less fortunate than her. When Jodi’s dear friend Tobi Klonecki passed away from breast cancer, and after seeing first-hand many of Tobi’s fellow patients struggle with the financial hardships associated with the disease, she knew what she had to do. She co-founded the Forward4Tobi Foundation with a sole mission to help women living with breast cancer improve their quality of life. Jodi serves as a Board Member and the Director of Grants Distribution, where she created the two patient assistance funds at North Shore/Kellogg Cancer Center (Chicago) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston).
Rebecca grew up in Northern Wisconsin, went to high school in Wheaton, Illinois and went to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where she received a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. Rebecca and Tobi became fast friends just after college when they worked on the same team at Hewitt Associates. They remained very close friends and Tobi was a very positive role model. Rebecca is married with four children and lives in Arlington Heights, Illinois.The success of this foundation is important to Rebecca because she knew Tobi was so grateful for the blessings in her life even during her battle with breast cancer and always wanted to give back to others especially those less fortunate.As the President of the Foundation, Rebecca is responsible for annual filings, planning and conducting monthly Executive Committee meetings, e-mail correspondence, annual and mid-year budget review, maintain all legal documents/procedure guide, and annual calendar. Rebecca is an active participant on the Executive Committee.
Jen grew up living blocks away from Tobi in Deerfield, IL. Jen and Tobi were best friends since they were born. Their mothers had a special friendship that was passed down to the next generation. After attending college at Northern Illinois University, Jen spent time as a Junior High School Teacher. Once she had children, she worked as a teacher in her children’s preschool. She currently works for Range Ventilation Design as their office manager. The Forward4Tobi Foundation is important to Jen because she knew all Tobi wanted was to help others. This allows Jen to fulfill a wish for Tobi as well as keep her by her side.As the Secretary, Jen is responsible for documenting our Executive Committee meeting minutes and any correspondence. As the Treasurer, she is responsible for keeping the books, all donations, filing taxes and providing financial reporting to the Board of Directors and to the Officers at the Executive Committee meetings. Jen is an active participant on the Executive Committee.
Monica grew up in Riverwoods, IL and completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Purdue University. Monica and Tobi shared a friendship that began on the junior high cheerleading squad and spanned over 30 years. Vacationing, working together and having children at the same time were some of the highlights in life they shared. Monica admired Tobi’s sense of adventure, positive outlook and perseverance. Monica is passionate about the foundation’s mission and knows Tobi would have wanted to help as many metastatic breast cancer ‘sisters’ as she could. She is honored to be able to pay it Forward4Tobi. As the Marketing Officer, Monica develops and executes the yearly marketing plan which includes social media, the foundation website, and a quarterly foundation e-newsletter. As the Public Relations Officer, Monica works with North Shore University Health System and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on foundation grant press releases. Monica is an active participant on the Executive Committee.
"Brenda is a 30-year-old stay at home mother with stage IV breast cancer. She has a two-year-old daughter, but instead of enjoying the endless happiness of being a new mom, she is fighting for her life. Since her husband frequently travels for work, the burden falls on Brenda to take care of the household in addition to making all of the doctors’ appointments and cancer treatments. The Forward4Tobi Foundation gave Brenda a grant to help pay for childcare and house cleaning on days when she simply needed a little help."September 19, 2016 Brenda
"A patient in her early 40s was recently diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer. She is divorced and has a child who she is raising on her own. She is struggling financially and her prognosis is poor. She worked previously but now is receiving a very limited amount of disability assistance. Her sister is her lifeline, providing her with emotional support and help with her son. Fortunately, her sister lives in the same apartment complex. Both of their parents are deceased and the patient’s brother died one year ago from a heart attack. Thanks to the Forward4Tobi Patient Assistance Fund, the patient was able to purchase groceries, freeing up funds to help her pay her rent."January 7, 2016 Anonymous
"Trisha is in her 50’s with stage IV breast cancer. Trisha was recently terminated from her job, and her current medical treatment leaves her unable to keep up with housekeeping and meal preparation. The Forward4Tobi Foundation gave Trisha a grant to help pay for housekeeping and meals with the hope that this money will take some of the burden off as she fights this insidious disease."September 17, 2015 Trisha
"A patient in her late 30s was diagnosed within the past year with breast cancer. She is married and has a five-year-old daughter. She is responding well to treatment, but it has completely depleted her family’s savings. They live out-of-state and have been paying for travel costs and childcare for every appointment. She is no longer working, and her husband had to reduce his hours at work to help care for her and to manage the logistics of home. This patient was able to use gas cards paid for by the Forward4Tobi Patient Assistance Fund to help cover travel costs. This was a huge help, and she shared that a very large burden was lifted during this physically and emotionally exhausting time in their lives."September 30, 2016 Anonymous
"Jennifer has stage IV breast cancer and has not been able to work; this has decreased the family income greatly. Jennifer and her family are struggling to pay their mortgage and have fallen almost 4 months behind. The Forward4Tobi Foundation gave Jennifer a grant to help her and her family get current on their mortgage and avoid foreclosure. "September 30, 2016 Jennifer
"A 26-year-old patient with breast cancer is married with 2 children, ages 3 and 6. Sadly, she recently learned that there are few treatment options left. Her husband suffers from a chronic illness, and his work is seasonal in nature, which means that disability payments are often the family’s only source of income. They have been trying to do fun activities as a family, which has become increasingly difficult physically, emotionally, and logistically. Thanks to the Forward4Tobi Patient Assistance Fund, this family has been able to purchase groceries to allow them to focus more on each other, rather than on where their next meals will come over the next month or two."September 30, 2016 Anonymous
"Laura is a 50-year-old stage IV breast cancer patient who is also raising her 22-year-old autistic son and her eight-year-old grandson (the mother is not involved/supportive). Laura was recently in a car accident; her car was damaged to the point that she was unable to drive herself to her doctors’ appointments and treatments. The Forward4Tobi Foundation gave Laura a grant that paid to repair her car, allowing Laura to continue treatment and focus on her health."September 30, 2016 Laura
"A 49-year-old patient with breast cancer can no longer afford a home of her own and now lives with her sister, along with her teenage son and nephew. She has not been able to work, and her relatives have very limited income. She has little access to food and clothing. The patient was so weak that she collapsed during a recent doctor’s visit. She and her son are sleeping on mattresses on the floor without linens or blankets, and until recently, she had no means of getting in contact with her medical team. Thanks to the Forward4Tobi Patient Assistance Fund, we were able to provide her with both general patient assistance and crisis funds. She received grocery gift cards as well as a cell phone and minutes so that she can speak with her care providers to ensure that she is getting the care she needs."September 30, 2016 Anonymous
"Sara has stage IV breast cancer that has metastasized to her liver and bone. She has not been able to work due to her medical condition; her husband is not bringing in any income either, staying home in order to care for Sara. She has no family to lean on during this difficult time, however the Forward4Tobi Foundation stepped in and gave Sara a grant to help pay for expenses that added up when income was not coming in."September 30, 2016 Sara