MORTON — A love of singing and performing combined with a strong desire to help others continues to drive the Morton Civic Chorus in its 45th year of raising funds for kidney disease patients through an energetic and entertaining show.

MORTON — A love of singing and performing combined with a strong desire to help others continues to drive the Morton Civic Chorus in its 45th year of raising funds for kidney disease patients through an energetic and entertaining show.

Under the direction of Denise Adams, the chorus will perform its “Encore” musical revue at 7:30 p.m. each night May 24-28 and at 2 p.m. May 29 at Bradley University’s Hartmann Center Theater, 1423 W. St. James St. in Peoria.

Proceeds go to the Central Illinois Memorial Kidney Fund, an organization that assists chronic kidney disease patients with costs for medication, transportation to and from dialysis and daily living needs. A volunteer board distributes funds to patients in need within a 100-mile radius of Peoria.

“Over the years, including what we could possibly raise this year, we’ve raised close to $1.5 million for CIMKF,” said Lisa Liddle, a member of the chorus and the group’s business manager.

The Morton Civic Chorus’s predecessor, the Morton Women’s Club, started the movement to donate funds from its annual benefit to dialysis patients 45 years ago when club member Sandy Mohr was stricken with kidney disease.

“The first benefit raised $7,500 for the National Kidney Foundation,” said Liddle, who has been singing with the chorus for about 25 years.

In the group’s fifth year of raising funds, they approached Peoria’s first nephrologist, Dr. Robert Pflederer, with concerns about keeping the funds raised local, and CIMKF was created, Liddle said.           

The Morton Women’s Club morphed into the Morton Civic Chorus, and the fundraising has continued ever since, she added.

This year’s honorary program chair is Dr. Beverley Ketel, a kidney transplant surgeon for 35 years. In a letter on the Morton Civic Chorus website, Ketel said that despite advances in medical care, kidney disease is a growing health problem nationwide.

“It is often debilitating to the point that afflicted persons are unable to work, and it requires expensive medications and time-consuming medical treatments,” she wrote, “People with kidney disease can become impoverished by their illness. Thankfully, we as a community in central Illinois have a strong history of caring for people in need.”

Denise Adams, who retired last year from Peoria School District 150 after a 34-year career as a music teacher, has been directing the Morton Civic Chorus for 32 years. Her husband, Lee Wenger, and two of their adult children also sing in the chorus, but they’re not the only ones who make it a family affair.

 “We have mother-daughter, husband-wife and father-daughter combinations,” Liddle said. “We have a lot of family connections in our group.”

The 64-member chorus ranges in age from about 22 to 70-something. Members come from all over the Tri-County area and from as far away as Ipava, Canton and Benson. Members represent all kinds of careers from engineering to insurance to nursing.

 “I think most of us sang in grade school and high school, and now we’re in our church choirs. It’s such a unique way for us to share that musical talent and to benefit people in need,” Liddle said.

  “Encore” 2016 selections will feature a variety of music, including “Just a Closer Walk,” “Under the Sea” and “Danny Boy.”

Because the show is held during Memorial Day weekend, the program will also include a crowd-pleasing salute to the armed forces with a medley of each branch’s service song.

“Denise Adams is a master at putting our shows together,” Liddle said. “She really gives the audience a little bit of everything. We’re always moving and there’s always a change of scenery, and that is very appealing to the audience.”

Show tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at Kidder Music, Morton Community Bank or online at www.mortoncivicchorus.org. Tickets will also be available at the door. For show information, call (309) 677-4966.