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Philanthropy Matters | Rallying the Troops

October 6, 2017
Authored by Kristen Willis, Director of Development

In the battle against breast cancer, NE CT knows how to call in the troops

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when the color pink becomes infused with the autumn paint pallet, and the annual campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer officially begins. 

It’s a time when pink ribbons abound, symbolizing the highly profiled and national movement for heightened awareness of the risks, the value of screening and early detection, and treatment options available to women and men who are diagnosed with the many forms of breast cancer that exist. It’s a personal reminder to be vigilant and proactive about your health – we’ve learned that earlier detection increases the chances for effective treatment.

But for those who have been affected directly or indirectly, it’s a stark reminder that a cancer diagnosis, breast cancer or otherwise, is devastating news and something that we aren’t prepared for. Cancer comes with a host of challenges that affect every aspect of daily life for ourselves and those close to us. 

For those who are willing and able, it’s a reminder to help where needed most. I am very proud to say that when it comes to support for cancer care at Day Kimball Healthcare, there is no shortage of the ‘willing and able’, nor do they need reminding to heed the call to action. At DKH, we’re reminded to be thankful for them each and every day.

Rallying the Troops at Day Kimball
For many years, the Day Kimball Development Office has enlisted the help of numerous community and staff volunteers to organize a series of fundraising events, several of which are dedicated to support the Northeast CT Cancer Fund of DKH which provides financial assistance for cancer related screening and treatment services to individuals living in northeast Connecticut who otherwise may not have the financial resources to obtain medical attention. Such events include the NE CT Cancer Race and Walk, originated by the Deary family and now in its 28th year; Cruisin’ for Cancer Care, a classic car and motorcycle ride inspired by Rita and Dave Conrad in 2004; and a Guest Bartender Night hosted by the Cruisin’ Committee for the past two years. Through the hard work of our dedicated volunteers, community participation, and the support of our major business partners who continually come forward to sponsor these events, $21,000 was raised this year for the NE CT Cancer Fund.

Community Crusaders
In addition to these efforts, cancer care at DKH continues to benefit from the initiatives of individuals and community groups who have taken it upon themselves to organize their own fundraisers to assist our cancer patients. This year, through the selfless generosity and enthusiasm of the Northeast Cancer Crusaders, the staff at Putnam Bank, and individuals like Lance Collins, Missy Bonsall, and Hayden Breault, another $36,000 has been raised for the Northeast CT Cancer Fund of DKH Rose Bove LaRose Cancer Center.

In 2001, the Rose Bove LaRose Cancer Center became the fortunate beneficiaries of fundraising by the Northeast Cancer Crusaders. From its modest beginnings with a simple Cancer Dance in 1974, this group has raised over $500,000 in the fight against cancer, dancing to 20-piece orchestras, small bands, and trios. Led by community members and champions for our Oncology Department, Arlene Baril and Linnea Sarantopoulos, the group’s current goal is to keep all proceeds raised in northeast Connecticut, earmarked to our Cancer Center to directly benefit local cancer patients. With their most recent donation in September, a total of $93,000 over the past nine years has provided upgrades and equipment including infusion chairs, an electronic medical records system, a medication scanner, a vein light, and a portable suction unit to name a few. In addition, the Crusaders began the Camisole Fund at DKH, providing free camisoles to women who have had breast radiation or surgery. 

Our Cancer Center has also benefited from the efforts of Lance Collins and his family who have been organizing an annual kayaking event called ‘Paddle for a Cure’ since 2011. Inspired by the loss of several relatives to cancer and his personal involvement in their journey, Lance reached out to DKH because of what he had learned about cancer and the need to help others facing the disease. Marking the 6th year of the Paddle this past June, Lance’s initiative has distributed over $60,000 in support for patient care in our Cancer Center, providing funding for everything from patient recliners for patient comfort, to a refreshment station for patients and families, to a digital medical records system. This year’s proceeds have been earmarked for upgrades and enhancements to the infusion room. 

In addition to annual gifts, memorials, and DKH sponsored events, the Northeast CT Cancer Fund continues to garner attention from community groups and individuals. Once again, the staff at Putnam Bank continue to amaze us with their community spirit, generosity, and enthusiasm. In addition to being involved in every other event committee throughout the year at DKH, they spearhead an annual Wine Tasting and what has become a sell-out event at the Golden Lamb Buttery; organize ‘Scoops Night’ in partnership with Deary Bros. Mike’s Stand; and most recently took the lead in another breast cancer awareness initiative by putting pink flamingos up for adoption at all of their bank branches. Collectively, these initiatives raised over $7,000 to help our families, friends and neighbors in need of cancer care.

We’ve also been honored to be sought out by individuals like Missy Bonsall, who came to us in 2016 with an inspiring message of hope for cancer patients and their families. Missy’s ‘Hike for Hope’ was born out of her personal loss of her fiancé to cancer and the strength to be found in others to help them through the difficult times. Her mission: to educate health care providers, patients, and their families about the importance of hope in the recovery process. The sunrise hike around beautiful Roseland Lake, was repeated this past September, raising awareness and contributing upwards of $5,000 to the NE CT Cancer Fund. 

Also raising awareness and a message of hope this past year, was twenty-one year old college student Hayden Breault. Hayden, a fourth generation member of the Deary family of Putnam, came to our office in the spring to let us know that he was going to set out on a three month hike across the Pacific Crest Trail, spanning 2,658 miles from the U.S. Mexican border at Campo, California to Manning Park in British Columbia, Canada. His goal: to raise $3,000 through pledges for each leg of his hike and he would be donating all of the proceeds to his family’s legacy of the NE CT Cancer Fund. ‘Hayden’s Hike for Hope’ began in May and ended in July with 70 days on the trail and an emotional and heartfelt thanks to his family, friends and followers for helping exceed his goal and donating $4,440 in support of the fund.

Stronger Together
The overwhelming support and attendance at DKH annual events and the grassroots efforts of the Northeast – the inherent instinct and ability of our community to respond, is what sets DKH apart from other hospitals. At DKH and the Rose Bove LaRose Cancer Center, we are continuously and gratefully reminded of just how fortunate we are to have you on our team. 

The impact of all of these efforts couldn’t have been more evident than by what transpired at the Oncology Department’s annual Cancer Survivor’s Day in September which I had the privilege to attend. More than 150 people were in attendance, including more than 70 cancer survivors and their families, all celebrating the power of hope and support in healing in a fun, end of summer luau. Three individuals who received treatment at DKH shared their stories. Doug Young, Elizabeth Aucoin, and Kathy Fontaine talked about their battles with cancer, each with a different type of cancer, but uniquely similar in the way they described their relationship with the doctors, oncology nurses, staff, and volunteers. They were ‘family’, relationships were nurtured, and whole families cared for. This is what we all should be reminded of not only in October or when we see a pink ribbon, but every time we hear of a life affected by cancer – that none of us are alone; that we are in this together – and that makes us all so much stronger.

 

Do you have questions, concerns, stories to share, or topics related to philanthropy and Day Kimball Healthcare that you’d like to learn more about? Please feel free to reach out to Kristen at 860-928-7141 or email kewillis@daykimball.org.

Related Resources
Learn about Giving to DKH
Make A Gift Now
Northeast CT Cancer Fund of DKH
Annual Fundraising Events

 

 






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