by James Garcia Jr.
Saturday, March 19, 2011, the Kingsburg Gun Club is teaming up with the Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers for a fundraiser which will benefit both the Volunteer organization as well as the Craycroft Cancer Center at Valley Children’s Hospital. Rib-eye steak dinners will be served to three hundred guests. Organizers of the event hope to raise both money and awareness of the great need to assist those who are fighting cancer in the local community.
According to their official flyer, the Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers grew out of a group that worked with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and then were founded in 1992 by Kingsburg residents with a vision to reach out to people in their community who were dealing with cancer. While they continue to work with the ACS with some of their fundraising efforts, nearly every dollar earned throughout the year stays in the community.
“I have some exciting statistics,” said Carla Dignan, member of the Kingsburg Gun Club as well as a Kingsburg Cancer Volunteer. “In 2010, The Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers had a gross income of $20,710. Bank fees, stamps, paper, envelopes, a P.O. box and a $150 dollar donation to a Relay for Life Team totaled $764 dollars. The rest of the money, every cent, went to our patients. That’s 96.5%. How many other non-profit groups can boast about that?”
The Kingsburg Volunteers are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of approximately fifty members who have battled cancer themselves, known someone who has, or who simply have a heart to assist others. Whether it is giving someone a phone call, offering some help or rides to doctor appointments, or perhaps providing some basic needs such as gas money or groceries, the Volunteers do everything in their power to make the lives of those afflicted with cancer a little better and brighter.
“This is why we made up the flyer,” said Dignan. “Even if we are not really sure who they are, or what their needs are, we can always put it by their door, and if they want to contact us, they are free to do so. Some people in the beginning are a little shy about it, but then when they hear what we do and who we are, and all of the people that we’ve helped, then they’ll come forward. We want to improve their life during this, we don’t want to make it a burden.”
“The important thing right at this moment is gas. People who are going five days for treatment, or even those who are going once a month, go back for blood work,” said Nancy Fry, Chairman of the Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers. “We make sure that we tell people that we are not going to pay your whole bill, but we’re here to help.”
“In January, we gave over $1200 dollars in gas cards,” added Dignan.
Originally organized to assist one member who was diagnosed with cancer but had no health insurance, the Gun Club fundraiser event has now grown to assist the many. “Five years ago, the guys got together and put on a shoot and a dinner at the Club,” said Dignan. “They raised a large amount of money. They were all inspired, so they continued to do it. This year, we’ve had so many patients and our income is down a little bit.”
Wishing that they had more money to help people, Dignan figured that it wouldn’t hurt to ask whether the Gun Club and the Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers might team up for this year’s event. The response was terrific. The Club decided to split the proceeds evenly between the Kingsburg Volunteers and the Craycroft Center.
The hope is to make what appears to be a great event on the 19th into an annual one. “My hope is that we will be able to grow this event, so that we can make it bigger and bigger, so that it becomes 500 people if we wanted,” said Dignan.
Another important item of business at the dinner event is remembering those who have been lost in the battle with cancer. When the event was first planned, Hanford resident Bill Martinusen (d. 2010) and Kingsburg resident Guy Burnett (d. 2011) were being remembered; however, in the weeks leading up to the event, many others have asked to honor their loved-ones as well. Memorial Plaques are being donated this year by Tanner Swanson who will inscribe the names of the cancer victims upon them, as well as their date of birth and death. The plaques will be set out upon the dinner tables.
Funding for the Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers is maintained by an annual Bar-B-Q Chicken Dinner in December, memorial remembrances and unsolicited donations. For the remembrances, “They get a letter, thanking them for the donation, and then the family gets a letter, so that they will know that we have recognized [the deceased],” said Dignan. “Basically, what we survive on is donations,” added Fry.
The Kingsburg Cancer Volunteers meet on the second Wednesday of every month at the Katy’s Kitchen Restaurant,1701 Simpson Street in Kingsburg. Anyone wishing to learn more or join them in their efforts is welcome to attend. There is a one-time $5 dollar fee to join. You may contact Chair Nancy Fry at (559) 897-5525 or Treasurer Cheryl Rocha at (559) 288-8630.
“I’m very excited to get the word out,” continued Dignan. “It’s time that people know that we’re here. It’s time for us to move forward with more members, more income, and more ways of helping people.”