It was an emotional presentation at the Barton County Commission meeting Tuesday morning as commissioners proclaimed Saturday, Sept. 14, as “Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Day” in honor of the Hoisington organization’s 25 anniversary.
Making the presentation was Christy Huslig, mother of Dade Cannon who died of leukemia at the age of 14 in January 2018 after a nine-year battle. Husling works for the Barton County Health Department and held a photo of her son as she addressed the commission.
Since 1994, the Duane and Deb Reif family of Hoisington has collected aluminum cans as a way to raise money to assist families dealing with childhood cancer, she said, fighting back tears as Debbie Reif comforted her. Expanding into Barton, Pawnee, Russell and Rice counties, the foundation has helped 35 families over the last 25 years.
The organization was started by the Reifs’ children to help with the medical expenses of their 9-month-old cousin, Katie. In March 1996, their effort became known as Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation.
“I firmly believe that had we started Kans for Kids somewhere else, we would not have had the success we’ve had in Barton County,” Debbie Reif said. “We didn’t do this alone.”
It started with the Reif kids collecting aluminium cans and was only going to last for a year. “It far exceeded our expectations,” Debbie said.
“I think it is commendable for you,” Commissioner Jim Daily said. “It’s outstanding work on your part.”
He went on to read the proclamation.
September is designated as Childhood Cancer Awareness month, and childhood cancer takes more children’s lives than any other disease, he said. “Each year, the parents of approximately 15,600 kids will hear the words ‘your child has cancer’ and 12% of children diagnosed with cancer do not survive.”
The average age of children diagnosed with cancer is 6, Daily said. And 60% of children who survive cancer suffer late-effects, such as infertility, heart failure and secondary cancers.
“Still, less than 4% of funding for cancer is directed to childhood cancer,” Daily said. “Our children are our most precious resource and are truly golden in our hearts and minds.
“All citizens are encouraged to honor childhood cancer patients, survivors, their families and caregivers and remember the children who have lost their lives to this devastating disease,” he said. “Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation is commended for their efforts in assisting children and their families struggling with cancer.”
“It take someone who has the true spirit” to successfully spearhead this kind of effort, said commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz, whose niece was helped by Kans for Kids when she had leukemia. “You have touched a lot of lives.”
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Tuesday morning:
• Approved a proclamation for Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation’s 25th anniversary.
• Approved contacting with the Ellsworth engineering firm Kirkham, Michael and Associates Inc. for the design work to replace a bridge on East Barton County Road as it crosses the Wet Walnut Creek approximately 2.9 miles east of U.S. 281. The firm will design a reinforced concrete bridge to replace the existing bridge that was built in 1924, County Engineer Barry McManaman said.
It is anticipated that the design work will be finished in approximately one year, at which time an advertisement for construction bids will be published.
• Approved the final cost of a dedicated wireless connection to the Barton County Landfill. In February, the commission authorized the Information Technology Department to connect the Solid Waste Department to the Courthouse via a wireless connection.
At that time, it was estimated that the project would cost no more than $11,500. However, an accounting of the project brings the total project cost to $15,361.77, said Network Administrator Dereck Hollingshead.
He noted the wireless connection eliminates the need to replace the server as well as some reoccurring costs and improves data backup solutions in general.