A charitable association in Abilene that helps those who are fighting cancer got a shot in the arm compliments of some rodeo cowboys.
The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo made a donation of $5,548.06 to the Elsie Brooks Memorial Cancer Fund of Dickinson County. The Jeffcoat Memorial Foundation matched $5,000 of the funds raised at the rodeo, according to foundation trustee Hank Royer.
The rodeo, held August 3-6, has hosted a Tough Enough to Wear Pink night during the Friday performance for the past sixteen years, with donations exceeding $42,000 for the Brooks Memorial Fund.
The money is granted to citizens of Dickinson County who are undergoing cancer treatment. Insurance covers medical expenses, but there are other costs to the family, said Janice Deal, treasurer of the Brooks Cancer Fund.
“So many of the people we help go to Kansas City or Salina” for medical treatment, she said, which may involve lodging and fuel expenses. “Just a trip or two a month to Kansas City, and staying overnight, adds up in a short time.”
Their help goes beyond a one-time gift, Deal said. “We’ve helped people for several months, and that sure means a lot to them. This isn’t a one-time thing.”
The “pink” night fundraiser at the rodeo had its most successful year ever, raising over $5,500 through voluntary donations.
When the rodeo teamed up with the Memorial Fund, chairman Jerry Marsteller was looking for something close to home. “We wanted to keep our money local,” he said.
The Memorial Fund is run solely by volunteers; no one is paid for their work. Deal, a retired bank worker, enjoys keeping records for the organization.
When cancer patients get help from the Fund, they also get a listening ear in Deal. She cares for everyone they’ve helped. “It’s a trying time for them,” she said. “I try to listen to everyone who calls, and encourage them, let them know we care.”
Oftentimes Fund recipients become friends.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” Deal said, referring to Dickinson County. “We know some of the families and people involved. And the ones we don’t know become friends, through helping them.
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Courtesy Photo: The “big check” is presented to the Elsie Brooks Memorial Cancer Fund of Dickinson County during the August 5 performance of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo. Standing, from left to right, are volunteers with the Elsie Brooks Fund: Linda Bletscher, Deanna Dunkel and Cindy Medina. Seated is Linda Bankes, a rodeo fan. Handing the check to the ladies is rodeo chairman Jerry Marsteller, on the left, and Jeff Anderes. Photo by Connie Stillwagon.