Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer came full circle last month when Katie Schwartz, Omaha, Neb., graduated from Millard South High School. Katie was diagnosed with an undifferentiated sarcoma the size of a small volleyball when she was 9 months old on Sept. 14, 1994. Her two cousins, Sarah, 11, and Shane Reif, 8, Hoisington, began recycling aluminum cans to help with Katie’s medical expenses.
They called their project Kans for Katie; a year later the project grew to become Kans for Kara (Littrell) when another child was diagnosed with cancer.
From those humble beginnings the Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation was established in 1996 and has gone on to assist 26 children in Barton County who have battled childhood cancer, according to Kans for Kids Director Debbie Reif.
The Becky Nicholson/ Kans for Kids Scholarship was established in 1999 in memory of Becky Nicholson, daughter of Bill and Pattie Nicholson and Karen Nicholson. Any child that has received assistance from Kans for Kids is eligible to receive the scholarship upon their graduation from high school. The scholarship is renewable for five years.
The Reif family traveled to Omaha the last week of May to attend the graduation of Katie, now 18 years old. While there, Sarah (Reif) Bricker and Shane Reif presented Katie Schwartz with the 2012 Becky Nicholson Scholarship. Schwartz graduated with several academic honors and plans to attend the University of Nebraska Omaha and major in elementary education.
“I’ll never forget standing in the kitchen at Katie’s home just a couple of days after her diagnosis of stage III cancer,” Debbie Reif said. “Her family was totally devastated and Katie’s prognosis wasn’t good. Her mother Karen (my sister) and I were talking about all those that were praying for Katie when Karen said, ‘Something good will come from all of this.’ Something very good did come from it; Katie beat the odds and has remained cancer-free for 17 years and we have (been) blessed to have been a small part of the journey of 26 children who have battled cancer.”