Volume 7, Number 41 - January 3, 2008
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Kickin’ Cancer Exceeds Expecyations
With such a small population, it’s no surprise that most people in town know what is going on in the lives of their neighbors, whether they know each other personally or not. When this information turns out to be of the tragic nature, these neighbors sometimes wish they could take the burden upon themselves to help as much as they can. This neighborly care is the basis that has created one of the largest non-profit organizations in the area, an organization responsible for distributing a quarter of a million dollars to citizens of Sublette County over the past four years.
Kickin’ Cancer in Sublette County has held fundraisers and accepted private donations since 2003 to assist in the bills incurred by cancer patients within the county. Due to the distance to any major hospital that can provide the treatment (43 percent of oncology patients in Jackson are from Sublette County), these people can rack up an insurmountable amount of fees that are the direct product of the treatment, but are not part of the treatment itself and therefore not covered by insurance. Gas money, hotel stays and time off from work put an even larger dent into finances during an already stressful period. Spearheaded by April Lippincott, a cancer survivor herself, the organization has grown tremendously over the years to what we see now, an organization that raised over $90,000 in 2007 alone to donate back to the community and the families that need the help.
In 2003, when Lippincott was going through her own treatments and new to the area, she came in contact with Steve James, a man who had fought the cancer battle six years prior. After several months of a teasing banter about their situations, Lippincott cornered James with her idea that they needed to create some kind of organization to help with the costs and the raffle idea followed soon after.
“We just started thinking, ‘Jeez, what do people do when they have to go stay in Salt Lake for six weeks and do radiation everyday?’” James said. “...And all those expenses that insurance won’t even think about. It had been on the back of my mind for six years and somehow or another all the sudden there was April.”
“It does take your personal finances out of your account – it drains it real fast,” April’s husband Gene Lippincott said.
With no foundation to work from, April, James, Norm Pape and Judith Boyle went out on a limb (with April and Gene taking out a personal loan to buy the first pair of raffled off 4-wheelers the second year) and held a BBQ and raffle in the Lippincotts’ backyard with proceeds going to Kickin’ Cancer in Sublette County, a program no one knew about at that time. Pape, who April says she begged to be on the board, warned everyone involved that Kickin’ Cancer would become larger than any of them could handle. “In three years this thing is going to run of over, I told her,” James said.
“It is the most satisfying board I have ever served on... I knew I was going to be on it, I was playing hard to get,” Pape said.
Within a month of the first tickets going on sale, the organization had sold enough to write a check to the bank to completely pay off the loan and the program has been growing ever since. The BBQ has even been moved from the backyard to the Sublette County Ice Arena due to its growth. “It started out real small and it’s snow balled,” April said. “We started out with a small idea and look what it has done for our community. We had a tiger by the tail, but we survived it.”
April won’t take all the credit for the idea or the growth of the foundation. As she has never been a voting member of the 100 percent volunteer board, April readily bestows credit to that board, a group comprised of James, Pape and Boyle. Boyle recently stepped down and was replaced by Sandy Wise. April also gives a lot of credit to Gene who has supported her throughout the growth (and even sits through the meetings). “I think as a board we knew we couldn’t alleviate the pain and stress and burden,” Pape said. “But we could help financially – to do as much there as we could. As time moved along and Kickin’ Cancer caught on, with the leadership of April, we stayed on a pretty steady course.”
“We’ve been able to really help people,” Pape added. “We’re proud of what we’ve been able to do – we’re real proud of that.”
In addition to helping those from Sublette County and being entirely volunteer, Kickin’ Cancer also spends all its money within the county purchasing items for raffle.
“I think that is the success of this, we can see the actual dollars...and we’re helping out our neighbors,” April said. “Part of being a valued member of your community is giving back to the community – it is important to keep the money in the community.”
Kickin’ Cancer’s support of the community has been returned to them in support from the community.
“It’s been a tremendous ride,” Wise said. “It’s become very big.”
Local businesses and individuals have donated their time and money to the organization to ensure its growth and staying power, but the list is too long to include. “There has to be some way to thank the county and the communities,” Wise said. “This is their organization and we couldn’t do it without them.”
After years of dedication and getting the organization off the ground, April will be stepping down from her position as secretary. Due to the growth of the organization and her own business, she simply does not have the time to dedicate to the position that she would like.
Kathy Raper, another local whose daughter Sunny was helped by Kickin’ Cancer during her recent bout with the disease, will be taking her position. “I am stepping down, not stepping away,” April said. “Change is always good and I feel I have taken Kickin’ Cancer as far as I can with me as the director.”
“It’s all for the good,” Raper said.
“When Sunny was diagnosed, it just made me see the need. I learned so many things with her battle that I am hoping I can help others with all that I have learned ... to help people and to give back what (Kickin’ Cancer) did for us.”
“It’s a healing process for the whole community,” April said.
The board and April agree that April will stay on as an advisor and continue putting her time in to help; she will simply no longer have a title.
“I don’t know how she’s going to not be in charge,” James said jokingly. “This thing helped not only the ones with cancer but their families, too. It’s really grown and we’re real proud of it.”
The next Kickin’ Cancer fundraiser will be Friday, June 13 at the Sublette Ice Arena.
For donations, applications and more info, contact:
Kickin’ Cancer in Sublette County
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