Photo by Shawn Byrne.
It’s sad, but cancer is for everyone.
Each and every person has had, or knows someone who has had, to fight cancer. Some became survivors, but others saw their fights end the difficult way.
It is in that fight where the all-volunteer Kingman Cancer Care Unit picks a side.
KCCU came into existence in 1975 with its stated mission, “to provide financial aid and moral support to cancer patients and families in the Kingman, Arizona area during their hour of need.”
Unfortunately, it’s a busy nonprofit. KCCU has served 221 clients with more than $160,000 worth of assistance over the last 31 months. The group helps their clients with hospital and dental bills, transportation costs for treatments, rent, utility bills, household expenses, medicine, lodging and equipment.
KCCU can do that because of the strong support from the community.
“We are so grateful for the love and support we get,” said KCCU president Janet Watson. “We couldn’t do anything without them.”
The support is ongoing, and KCCU received a large dose of good news when a gift of $142,000 from the Don and Luda Soldwedel Trust was donated to the group to further its operations.
The Soldwedel family bought The Mohave (now Kingman Daily) Miner in the 1960s and today owns many Northern Arizona newspapers.
It’s the largest donation KCCU has received in its 42-year history.
“When I first got the papers, we didn’t know how much,” said KCCU treasurer Phyllis Eaton. “When I figured out we were getting $140,000, I thought, ‘Holy crud, we’ve never gotten that amount of money.’”
The sizable donation from the family-owned Daily Miner has given the nearly 50-member KCCU a chance to catch its breath, but the group is not going to slow down its efforts.
“It secures our future,” Watson said. “Costs keep rising. We do have a limit to how much we can help, but the client gets to pick and choose how to use it. If it’s a child, we don’t have a limit to how much we will help.”
The donation is large enough to keep KCCU’s operations going for at least two years, and all of it will eventually be used to meet the need of its clients who are going through a cancer battle.
KCCU holds its own fundraiser in November with its annual arts and crafts event. The proceeds from this fundraiser, and only this fundraiser, are used to finance the organization’s expenses.
The Daily Miner featured two of KCCU’s clients in 2016, who then became members. Diane Marschall and Mike Malysz were first helped by KCCU. The group helped Marschall with travel costs at 25 cents per mile for trips to Tucson, and it helped Malysz with rent and utilities when he needed it. Today, they are both KCCU members giving back.
“They helped me. I want to help them,” Marschall told the Daily Miner back then. “I don’t consider myself religious, but I’m very blessed and I know that.”
Giving back is part of the KCCU program as well. The group gives its own donation to the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson for researching treatments and cures in the fight against cancer.
Donations Are Great, But People Needed
Kingman Cancer Care Unit appreciates every dime it receives through donations. The group knows it wouldn’t exist without them. KCCU is a lot like every other organization, nonprofit or for-profit: The group realizes there’s an asset that’s more precious than money. And that’s people.
“Contributions may help financially, but the group has a lot of older members,” Watson said. “We’re hoping to get some younger people to help. We’re not spring chickens. Every member has lost someone close to them.”
All things KCCU can be discovered at https://kingmancancercareunit.com. Information regarding volunteering, donating, holding a fundraising event, and reaching out for help can be found there. KCCU can also be reached by phone at 928-753-3499.
“We have a lot of people who work very hard for this group,” Eaton said. “And a lot of them are in the background.”
Daily Miner reporter Hubble Ray Smith contributed to this report.