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Alana Epsicokhan holds a butterfly during the annual Butterfly Release at the Community Cancer Center in Normal last year. More than 450 monarch butterflies are expected to be released during the fourth annual Butterfly Release at the cancer center on July 20.

NORMAL — Central Illinoisans can raise money for the Community Cancer Center while raising awareness of the plight of monarch butterflies and honoring loved ones during a community event next week.

The fourth annual Butterfly Release will be 10 a.m. July 20 at the cancer center, 407 E. Vernon Ave., Normal. Doors will open to the public at 9 a.m.

More than 450 monarch butterflies are expected to be released, said event chairwoman Sue Farrell-Stroyan. More than 600 people attended the event last year, she said.

"It's joyous," said Farrell-Stroyan, a retired teacher. "It's an expression of hope and peace.

"The emergence of the butterfly is a sign of renewal of life and it's flight symbolizes freedom and happiness," she continued.

Deanna Frautschi, a member of the event committee, noted that attendees usually purchase butterflies in memory or in honor of a loved one.

"It's quite emotional when the butterflies are released, realizing that they all are going out in memory or in honor of someone," Frautschi said.

Butterflies for release may be purchased from the cancer center's website, www.cancercenter.org, for $25. Proceeds will go to upkeep of the cancer center gardens and grounds and for cancer center projects, Farrell-Stroyan said.

More than $12,000 was raised last year, said Farrell-Stroyan, noting that the event grows each year.

In addition to supporting the cancer center and honoring loved ones, the event also is intended to respond to the plight of monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies are endangered because of deforestation, climate change and pesticide use, she said.

The butterflies come from a butterfly farm in Michigan, Frautschi said. They are in a dormant state and kept in special envelopes in cold storage, she explained.

Attendees who registered for the butterfly release will be handed an envelope with their butterfly at 9:40 a.m. July 20. When the envelopes are opened at 10 a.m., the butterflies should be out of their dormant state and ready to fly out, Frautschi said.

In addition to the butterfly release, the event, which continues to 11 a.m., will include children's activities, an alpaca exhibit and a lemonade and cookie stand.

"You can buy a monarch or just come to the event and be a part of it," Farrell-Stroyan said.

The cancer center, a joint venture of Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center, offers services to about 200 cancer patients each day.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech

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Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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