Remarkable Women: Cheryl’s Story

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URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Cunningham Children’s Home’s history goes back more than 100 years. Cheryl Van Ness’ own role in it spans several decades.

“Growing up, my mom would bring Christmas gifts,” Cheryl recalled. “So, it’s always been a part of my life.” 

In fact, you could say giving back is in her blood.

“I saw it all happen and I think it rubbed off on me.

“As an adult, Cheryl began volunteering on a committee to help Cunningham’s. From there, she worked her way up toward board president, while also taking on a deeply personal role mentoring a girl at Circle Academy.

“She has a heart of gold and a heart for serving others,” Cunningham’s Director of Advancement Ginger Mills said. “She kind of has this roll-up the sleeves and do whatever it takes attitude.”

Listening to Mills describe Cheryl, you might assume she’s the one who submitted Cheryl’s name for the Remarkable Women competition.

You’d be in good company; Cheryl assumed just as much as well. 

But it turns out that in this case, Cheryl’s big fan is her daughter, Elizabeth. 

“She was like, ‘someone nominated me, someone from WCIA wants to interview me,’ and I was like, ‘oh yeah? For what?’ and she was like, ‘I don’t know,'” Elizabeth said. “I was like, ‘it was me!”

That’s when she says her mother fell silent for a moment.

“I almost started crying at first, but then, I thought, she knew, she’s seen it all,” Cheryl said, citing all the field trips she chaperoned when her daughters were younger.

Mills says when Cheryl told her Elizabeth was the one who submitted her name, she was touched.

“I think it’s really meaningful,” Mills said. “Sometimes, kids look at their parents and take for granted that they’re a great mom or dad.”

Elizabeth has a message for her remarkable mother.

“I want you to hear we love you and we are so grateful for everything you’ve done for us growing up and today,” she said. 

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