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Old National Bank supports Julianna in cancer battle

By
ABIGAIL WISE

Old National Bank recently held a fundraiser for Tecumseh’s 14-year-old Julianna Kurutz, raising almost $2,200. Kurutz has a brain tumor and is fighting cancer as she goes into her freshman year at Tecumseh High School. Jesse Pizana, community market manager for south central Michigan, heard about her story and said, “Something just told me that I needed to get in contact with her.” He had cancer himself at the age of 13 and then again when he was 14.

“I was able to get connected with Juliana through my position as chairman of the board for Community Learning Connections in Tecumseh,” Pizana said. Kurutz began texting him often and the two became friends. She sent him her bucket list, and the first thing on it was “Mall of America.” She loves shopping, but with the pandemic it wasn’t considered safe for her to travel to Minnesota.

“The community did so much for my family when I was sick, it really is our duty to give back as much as we can,” Pizana said. He oversees five offices in southern Michigan, and his boss oversees northern Indiana and Michigan. He told his boss about Kurutz and she was just as motivated as him to help out. She was able to get a “jeans day” approved, so that all Old National Bank team members could participate by donating to the cause if they wanted to dress casually. The fundraiser ended up raising almost $2,200 for Kurutz.

“In the Tecumseh community, we do anything and everything for each other,” Pizana said. This past Friday, Old National Bank as well as some community members rallied behind Kurutz and her family by presenting her with the check.

Kurutz was involved in the program ROX, Ruling Our Experiences, in middle school. The program is for empowering girls at a certain age and learning how to control their own lives how they want them.

The whole experience has been full circle for Pizana as well as his family. He was helped when he was fighting cancer, and now is able to help Kurutz with her battle. “I didn’t have that when I was sick, I’m happy I can be there for her,” he said.

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