Some ideas to help your local community raise funds and awareness
Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, CCRC
Local Cancer Charities Helping Patients In Need – Last week, we talked about some major fundraising groups in “Every Ribbon Counts”. Without a doubt, these massive organizations have a tremendous impact on cancer research, as well as advocacy and direct assistance to cancer patients. We also talked about the impact that each and every one of us can have on the world from our perspectives as cancer patients and survivors. Today, I want to talk about some local groups that I know about that have raised awareness of cancer in their communities. Keep in mind, these are just a couple groups that I know of and represent just a fraction of the hundreds of amazing groups that offer support to cancer patients and their families.
Mason County Cancer Benefit
Tucked into the Texas Hill Country is a county and a town that mean the world to me. My family has been in that county for well over 150 years, and I was blessed to live there for a decade. Mason offers amazing schools, a quiet, peaceful community, and a small-town charm that is hard to surpass. Unfortunately, despite these upsides, Mason lies two hours from Austin and San Antonio and 90 minutes from San Angelo, the closest places that world class medical care can be found. Frequent travel to and from these areas can place a terrible financial burden on cancer patients and their families.
Twelve years ago, a group of Mason residents came together and created the Mason County Cancer Benefit, an annual event raising money to provide financial support to cancer patients that reside in the county. Some fun ideas from this group that really engage the community include a bake sale, chili cook-off, bar-b-que sales, and teams that compete for the most money raised. A recent addition from the “Kids Against Cancer” team has been a flock of pink lawn flamingos that mysteriously appear in the yards of homes and businesses. Home and business owners can have the flocked removed for a $10 donation and can have a friend “Flocked” for another $10 donation. This light-hearted fun and competition has been invaluable to the cancer warriors in the county.
This amazing group began back in 2014, when tiny cancer warrior Raelyn was fighting a rare form of childhood cancer. Wanting to make precious memories with Raelyn, a snowstorm was arranged for her front yard after she came home on hospice. Snow doesn’t come easily in Houston; however, with the help and support of the community, 10,000 pounds of snow were placed on her yard. Raelyn was able to experience the joy of playing in the snow and forget about cancer for that amazing afternoon.
Since Raelyn’s passing, Operation Snowstorm founder Ed Newby decided to keep this initiative growing and have provided snowstorms for numerous Houston area kids with terminal cancer. Volunteers show up with shovels, mittens, sleds, and a photographer to document these touching and heartwarming memories for the youngest of patients. News of their amazing work has earned the support of generous sponsors in the area, and is also supported by annual volleyball, kickball, and softball tournaments. Recently, Operation Snowstorm provided a snow day for the kids of Memorial Herman Hospice. 40,000 pounds of snow were dropped in Houston on an October day for current Snow Warriors (the sweet name given by Operation Snowstorm for these brave kiddos) and the families of previous Snow Warriors. Face painting, visits from super heroes like Spider Man, and snow cones made for a memorable day for these amazing kids and their families.
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These are just two of the numerous community organizations that raise awareness and funds for cancer patients in their communities. Whether focusing on a geographical area, or a subset of patients such as pediatric patients, these groups help people afflicted with cancer and their families in ways that cannot be measured.
Remember that a community is not restricted to geography. A community can be a group of people brought together by a common occurrence, or in our cases, a common disease. Please take a look at our page dedicated to advocacy and support groups. Turning to a group that is dedicated to the type of cancer that you have been diagnosed with can provide tremendous support. For example, when I was going through treatment for thyroid cancer, finding the Thyroid Cancer Survivor’s Association was invaluable!
Do you have ideas for getting your community involved? Do you know of a support or awareness group in your local area? Please tell us about them by completing our Association Submission Form. Also, share your thoughts below if you feel so inclined. By coming together, we create a love that cancer cannot beat.
As always, much love, abundant blessings, and many prayers to all of the cancer warriors and their families.