Help an IU athletics secretary with cancer

I wrote a story for today’s H-T about IU athletics secretary Kim Webber-Hill who has been fighting cancer since November 2007. IU’s head coaches are holding an online auction to help Kim that you can participate in by clicking here.

Here’s my story about Webber-Hill, who has bravely gone through a traumatic time and could really use some help financially that you can provide by bidding on items in the coaches’ auction.

By Doug Wilson
[email protected]

Kim Webber-Hill doesn’t know what she would have done through the last 17 months of battling breast cancer without the help of her co-workers in the Indiana athletic department.

They’ve made food for her family, encouraged her and even tried, unsuccessfully, to donate their sick leave time to her as she’s undergone three long series of weekly chemotherapy treatments, had two mastectomies and suffered various medical side effects.

Having used up the 3 1/2 months of leave she had built up from her job as a secretary in the athletic department, she now goes unpaid on the frequent days when she has to miss work. The stress of being so sick has been compounded by falling behind on her mortgage payments and other bills, and having difficulty in buying necessities such as groceries and gas for her family.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Webber-Hill said. “It’s been terrible.”

Her husband, Nate Hill, who works in facility maintenance in the athletic department, has become the family’s sole wage earner too often lately, because Webber-Hill missed about five months of work last year and six weeks this year. With Webber-Hill, 47, bringing four children into their marriage and Hill also having a daughter, it’s been particularly difficult to make ends meet during her illness.

IU’s coaches are stepping up the level of support from the athletic department by launching an online auction to raise money to help Webber-Hill and her family.

The silent auction, which starts today, allows people to bid on such items as participation in various IU summer sports camps, tickets to basketball and football games, private tennis lessons, an autographed basketball and football.

Those items are available on HoosierSportsCamps.com. The IU summer camps that can be bid on include baseball, boys’ and girls’ basketball, diving, field hockey, football, boys’ golf, girls’ golf, boys’ and girls’ soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming, boys’ and girls’ tennis and wrestling.

The auction will continue through April 10 with the highest bids for each item being updated periodically. The auction will be run by former athletic department employee John Decker, who has donated the time of his company, Forward Marketing. All proceeds will go to Webber-Hill and her family.

The idea to auction off the sports camps and other items came from IU women’s tennis coach Lin Loring, who credits the athletic department’s secretaries for spurring the effort.

“They wanted to donate unusued sick leave to help out Kim,” Loring said. “Unfortunately, IU has no mechanism in place to allow that to happen.

“I heard about their efforts and kept thinking that there must be something we could do. I brought up the idea of an auction at the next head coaches meeting. In 30 seconds, we had 100 percent participation from IU head coaches.”

Loring told Webber-Hill about the auction two weeks ago.

“I was overwhelmed,” she said. “It made me cry.”

Webber-Hill is hoping funds from the auction will help her get over the hump in dealing with the final parts of receiving her treatment and paying her bills. She has six weeks left of chemotherapy and is scheduled to have her final reconstructive surgery in May. After that, doctors will monitor her closely, but hopefully she’ll be cancer-free and need no further treatment.

She and her husband are hoping that once she’s better they’ll be able to find a way to help others who are experiencing similar difficulties.