Last year the families of two men treated at Avera McKennan for a deadly blood cancer came together to pay it forward. They started the Compassion in Action Fund to help other families faced with the financial burden of this disease. As Nancy Naeve Brown explains this years golf benefit was especially tough for organizers and touching for the golfers.
The Compassion in Action Golf Benefit teed off for the 2nd time, the 2nd year at Spring Creek Country Club near Harrisburg. Compassion in Action is a fund set up by two families, the Lamfers and the Pluckers, through the Avera McKennan Foundation to give a thousand dollar donation to families dealing with blood cancers. Alan Plucker died 11 years ago after a 10 month battle with leukemia. The Plucker's accountant Rodney Lamfers was diagnosed in August of 2009 with the same kind of deadly cancer. He was 36 at the time and defying the odds to live. He had a bone marrow transplant at the end of '09 from an unrelated donor, went into remission and had a really good 2010. Suddenly in January of this year the cancer came back with a vengeance. He died July 15th.
Rodney's widow Kerry Lamfers says, "We are very thankful for the donor of the transplant we received. It gave us an additional year and 7 months and I wouldn't give any of that time back for the world."
Last year Rodney and his Kerry were thrilled about the prospect of holding this fundraiser yearly to help more and more families. Rodney's business partner and friend Eric Maas is keeping the hope, the tournament and the compassion alive by taking over organizing duties for the benefit.
Eric Maas says, "It's something he was passionate about. I saw him go through leukemia and the struggle that bring upon a family. To be able to help in a little way for this foundation was a no brainer for our firm to help out. We are happy to do it. Hope it continues for years to come."
And like last year folks from the Avera Transplant Institute were on hand at the golf course to register people in the national bone marrow donor program. It's a painless 5 minute process that includes a swab of the cheek, a little paperwork and the power to save a life.
Lacey Roberts with the Avera Transplant and Bone Marrow Program says, "It's very important. It gets a lot of publicity out there and a lot of people signed up. We are always in need of more donors because when we do a search we are not always able to find a donor for that patient."
Compassion in Action helped 18 families last year. Rodney was optimistic they'd help a handful.
Eric says, "We miss him. We miss him a lot. But it's nice to be here and a way to remember him cause he was such a big part of it last year."
Kerry says she and their 3 daughters will always be a part of compassion in action as a way to honor the loyal husband and dedicated father who helped start something pretty incredible by paying it forward.
This one event raised more than $10,700! This money will all go directly to assisting families dealing with blood disorders or cancer of the blood.
To find out more about Compassion in Action visit the Avera McKennan Foundation site:
http://www.avera.org/mckennan/foundation/index.aspx or call