CLAFLIN — Kans for Kids held an informational meeting for Claflin High School students last Wednesday, providing information about childhood cancer victims in Barton County.
The organization has helped 24 children since 1994 with 22 still surviving. They provide up to $6,000 per year to assist with the expenses surrounding the illness and allow up to $18,000 lifetime assistance to the child. Additional gifts for hospitalizations and Christmas are given if funds are available and approved by the board.
Thirteen of the cancer victims were from Great Bend, seven were from Hoisington, three were from Ellinwood, and the first victim, Katie Schwartz was from out-of-state.
Three Barton County residents are currently being assisted by Kans for Kids. They are Tanner Blackwell, Hoisington, Aaron Fryberger, Great Bend and Dade Cannon, Great Bend, all of whom are attending school at least part-time.
"Each of the boys is doing well," said Debbie.
Blackwell underwent tests last week to determine the status of his cancer. "The preliminary results look good," said Debbie, but the final results won’t be back until later this week. Fryberger and Cannon still require more treatment.
There are places to donate cans throughout Barton County and the organization holds regular fundraisers. They are currently holding selling raffle tickets for a Nov. 13 drawing. Prizes available include a casino night, Kansas State University basket, University of Kansas basket, a television, quarter beef, gift certificates, crafts, and other items. Any of the board members have tickets or people can call 620-653-2210. They will be sell tickets on Nov. 6 at the CPI Annex, 24th and Kansas, and on Nov. 13 at Great Bend High School, which is the same day as the drawing.
Board members are: Taunya Schlessiger, Ellinwood, Renee Dykes, Great Bend, Gloria Adams, Hoisington, Lindsay Mitchell, Hoisington, Barbara Froetschner, Great Bend, Jimalene Haddon, Ellinwood, Loretta Kinman, Hoisington, Anne Beck, Claflin, Gail Moeder, Great Bend, and non-voting members: Jane Steinert, Sarah Reif Bricker, Shane Reif, Debbie and Duane Reif, Dariane Marshall, Great Bend, and Megan Brown, Hoisington.
On Nov. 14, a Home Interior Design Party will be held at the St. John Parish Center in Hoisington from 2 to 4 p.m. with a portion of the proceeds going to Kans for Kids.
The organization began when Sarah Reif Bricker and Shane Reif, the children of Debbie and Duane Reif had a cousin, Katie Schwartz, who developed cancer. Wanting to help Schwartz, who was 9 months old, Shane and Sarah asked if they could collect cans to raise money. Their parents agreed, and the then-kids rode through their neighborhood collecting Kans for Katie. The Reif’s soon had a mountain of cans when school mates and churches helped out. It was a success story, and Schwartz’s cancer went into remission.
Soon after, Kara Littrell Gardner, Hoisington was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease in 1995, and so the organization became Kans for Kara. When Sara Ogden, Great Bend, was diagnosed with leukemia, also in 1995, the organization collected for her as well. In 1996, the Kans for Kids Foundation was born.
Debbie described the toll of cancer to students. She spoke of the struggles with hair loss, throwing up and exhaustion. In addition, Barton County children cannot receive treatment locally, so they must travel to Wichita, Kansas City or out-of-state.
"Primarily, we became a county-wide organization because of all of the kids that were diagnosed," said Moeder, president of the board. "The kids came from different areas in the county."
In 1999, the Becky Nicholson scholarships were set up so the children could further their education. Any child who has received funding from Kans for Kids is eligible to receive a $1,000 scholarship upon graduation from high school. They must have a 2.0 GPA. The scholarship is renewable annually at $500 as long as the students meets the requirements set forth by the board.
The Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Endowment was established in 2008 with the Golden Belt Community Foundation to insure the future of the organization.
Although born in Hoisington, Kans for Kids has truly become a county-wide organization.