Upcoming cancer center fundraisers a lesson in community

Published 12:52 am Saturday, August 25, 2018

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Beaufort County.

Around that leading cause of death, a community of support has been built. At its center is the Marion L. Shepard Cancer Center and the foundation that ensures care for body, mind and spirit. Shoring up the foundation are sponsors and many volunteers, those who put in time and effort to raise money for the cancer center’s many services. Among them are the Let’s Tee It Up For a Cure golf tournament Sept. 9, the Hope & Heroes Walk on Sept. 7 and a bow campaign that has already surpassed fundraising expectations.

The effort pays off in dollars for the cancer center, but it really pays off for the patients, according to Danielle White, an oncology nurse at the center, who also works as a navigator — someone who helps guide patients through the difficulties they may face while undergoing treatment, offering help where needed, from enrolling in Medicaid to paying for medications a patient might not be able to afford.

“Transportation is a big one — getting them taxies for last minute things, and also for radiation. It’s a huge life saver because they have to come for 30 treatments, every day, Monday through Friday,” White said.

For patients who have no transportation at all on days they have treatments, there are taxies and the Beaufort Area Transit System bus rides. For those who have cars, but can’t afford to pay for the gas, there are $25 gas cards handed out. It’s the first order of business for new patients at the cancer center: a “distress test” given to determine who may need help and where.

“Our staff knows our patients well enough to known whether this is affecting them financially,”

said Pam Shadle, Vidant Beaufort’s director of marketing and community outreach and development.

“We identify the needs the very first time they come in,” White said.

Medical equipment, anti-nausea drugs, wigs, deposits for PET scans, restorative yoga classes, massages — they’re just a few of the services and supplies offered to patients courtesy of the foundation and the generosity of donors. Many of those donors live across the Pamlico River, in the community of Cypress Landing, the former home of Marion L. Shepard, who, along with Dr. Fred Howdy, co-chaired fundraising for the cancer center. Cypress Landing residents still feel a strong connection to both Shepard, who died of cancer, and the center that was named for him, according to Mary Jane Cooke, a Cypress Landing resident and organizer of the Hope & Heroes Walk, a 1.3- or 3-mile walk around the Cypress Landing golf course.

“(Cancer) touches all our lives,” Cooke said. “(Shepard) had done so much for the start of the organization, and we as a community wanted to honor him. … Cypress landing, friends — many people have used this facility, and it’s just wonderful to have that connection close to us. We just so appreciate all the cancer foundation does for our loved ones and in the area.”

The way these fundraisers are scaled make it possible for anyone to take part, Shadle said. Sponsoring a name on the Hope & Heroes “honor board,” a board listing names in honor of, or in memory of, those with cancer, costs $15. The walk is $20 to join.

The level of participation is currently evident across Washington and Chocowinity in the many residences and businesses sporting pink and purple bows — yet another fundraiser sparked by bow-makers Grace Gandt and Cathy Napoli, with ribbon donated by Page Wright, owner of Blythe House. At $15 for bows for residential homes and $25 for businesses, the campaign has proven highly successful this year, Cooke said.

“They have raised over $11,000 this year, just in Cypress Landing,” she said, adding that the bow campaign gets a little competitive in the neighborhood.

“If you see a purple bow at the end of the street that means it’s filled, and they are so excited when that happens. It’s a little bit of a competition,” Cooke laughed.

BOWED OUT: This year’s bow campaign has surpassed fundraising expectations. In Cypress Landing alone, more than $11,000 has been raised for the Shepard Cancer Foundation.

As is the golf tournament, sponsored in main by Nutrien and Vidant Health, and held simultaneously at both of Beaufort County’s largest golf courses: Cypress Landing and Washington Yacht & Country Club.

“Both clubs are very generous to open their clubs for us for that Sunday afternoon,” Shadle said.

Hope & Heroes, Let’s Tee It Up For A Cure and the bow campaign each represents a good time for those who take part, but they also represent so much more to those enduring a cancer battle, according to Shadle.

“The real reason for why we’re doing what we’re doing is for the patients and their families,” she said. “We’re so fortunate  that we get so much support from the community.”

To register for the walk, visit shepardcancerfoundation.org; to register for the golf tournament, visit the website, call Cypress Landing golf shop at 252-946-7788 ext.2 or Washington Yacht & Country Club, at 252-946-3245.