Photo by JC Amberlyn.
KINGMAN – There’s always someone who picks up the ball and runs with it, and for Kingman Cancer Care Unit, that person would be Janet Watson.
She’s president of the nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide financial aid and moral support to cancer patients and their family during their hour of need.
A former school teacher, school board member, city councilwoman and mayor of Kingman, Watson has never shied away from the task at hand.
So when Watson’s mother-in-law – who eventually died of cancer – recruited her to become a member of the group 12 years ago, there was no hesitation.
“Almost everyone who’s a member of the group has been touched personally by cancer and they know the struggle you go through,” she said during an interview at the Daily Miner.
“If we can make it a little easier, that’s a great thing. We’ve delivered wheelchairs, loaned out walkers and equipment and helped people with expenses.”
Kingman Cancer Care Unit was formed in 1975 and has more than 50 volunteer members. About half of them attend meetings, and half of those are the “worker bees,” Watson said.
Volunteers take cancer patients to doctor appointments and treatments, and provide them with wheelchairs, walkers, wigs, prosthesis and other items. Last year, the group helped more than 100 patients.
Kingman Cancer Care Unit also helps defray expenses such as travel to out-of-town cancer treatment centers, prescription drugs and utility bills, and donates each year to University of Arizona for cancer research.
“In the beginning, our annual expenditures were in the neighborhood of $25,000 a year. We were over $50,000 in 2015 and we’re even up this year,” Watson said.
“It continues to grow as we get more money and that’s where the community comes in. The number of fundraisers has grown and the number of donations and community involvement has grown. When we have more people, we can help more people. We’re just the conduit.”
The largest fundraiser for Kingman Cancer Care Unit is the annual Arts and Crafts Show, which is scheduled for Nov. 12-13 at Mohave County Fairgrounds.
More than 120 vendors set up booths to sell their arts and crafts, along with food vendors, and the event raised about $30,000 last year, Watson reported. Another $10,000 came from the drawing for prizes and gift certificates donated by local businesses.
“We just hope the Arts and Crafts Show will continue to grow,” Watson said. “It fluctuates with the economy. Once we had 170 booths.”
Kingman Cancer Care Unit is supported by a number of charitable events including the Dambar’s Boot Out Cancer; the city of Kingman’s pink ribbon drop, horseshoe tournament and T-shirt sales; the Kingsmen’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink; a portion of October sales at Martin Swanty Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Cordova RV Service.
There also is a golf tournament sponsored by Pepsi; the BMX track; and the women’s bowling league every Wednesday during Pink October.
And don’t forget the $600 raised by a 6-year-old girl at her lemonade stand.
“When you think about an organization that has operated for 40 years based strictly on donations and fundraisers,” Watson said.
“We have no location, no payroll, no staff and very few expenses. It continues to grow.
“There are people who send us a check, maybe it’s only $25, and some families send something in every month, or they make an annual donation in a memorial of someone they lost.”
One of the organization’s major partners is Kingman Regional Medical Center with its Catch It Early program, Watson added.
“Kingman has a lot of expertise and knowledge and technology with the doctors, the imaging center, the oncology center, and we work together on things,” the Kingman Cancer Care Unit president said.
Kingman Cancer Care Unit meets at 5:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at Kathryn Heidenreich Adult Center, 1776 Airway Ave.
The board is comprised of Watson, president; Doris Panik, vice president; Megan Hoffman, secretary; Phillis Eaton, treasurer; Dorothy Brown, past-president; and Doris Power, chairwoman of the service committee.