It takes a village

it-takes-a-vilageWhen I am speaking with members of our community about the Oregon Cancer Foundation, I often experience that, while they may have heard of us, they don’t know much about our organization or what we do. I’m taking the opportunity this month to answer a few frequently asked questions: Who do we serve? What services do we offer? And where do our funds come from?

In 2006, our organization was founded with a single donation from a grateful family, with the intention that the money would be used to help patients in our community while they underwent treatment for cancer. Back then, we were called the Willamette Valley Cancer Care Foundation, but in 2013, we were renamed the Oregon Cancer Foundation. What didn’t change, however, is our focus on serving our local community. We are based in Eugene and we serve Lane County residents and individuals receiving cancer-related services in Lane County.

Our mission is to empower, strengthen and sustain those impacted by cancer in our community through education, support and financial assistance. What that means is that we provide education and support through our Survivorship Series, our partnership with the Eugene YMCA’s LIVESTRONG program, and other community-based resources.

Our main program, however, is our Financial Assistance Program. Over the last 10 years, the Oregon Cancer Foundation has helped hundreds of local cancer patients pay their mortgage, rent, car payment, utility bills, buy groceries, gas and more. This year alone, we expect to help 200-300 patients. Our stop-gap financial assistance is often provided during a time of crisis, when a patient’s other resources have been exhausted. Because we are small and local, we are able to help patients quickly, when they need it most.

I often get asked the question, “So, where do you get your funding?” The answer is that 100 percent of our funding comes from individual and corporate donations, event sponsorships, civic groups and community fundraisers. We receive donations in honor or memory of friends or family members. We work with local schools to host coin drives, golf groups that host tournaments, and more. We even have our own triathlon team called Team Endure!

We are also fortunate to have partnerships with several local businesses that help to raise funds for our Foundation through their own events, such as the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink (TETWP) events. Earlier this month, rodeo organizers held their annual TETWP Motorcycle Rally and Poker Run. This fun event draws more than 200 participants each year and provides a full day of riding, food and camaraderie focused on one thing—raising funds to support local breast cancer patients. The Oregon Cancer Foundation supports ALL types of cancer, but TETWP events raise funds specifically designated for assisting breast cancer patients.

As soon as the Motorcycle Poker Run wraps up, the TETWP team turns its attention to the rodeo. This year marks the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s 25th anniversary and opening night, Friday, July 1, is Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. All of the cowboys, cowgirls and rodeo staff will be rocking pink shirts and all spectators wearing pink will receive a ticket at the gate for a chance to win a vacation package.

The folks at the Eugene Pro Rodeo and the TETWP team are serious about raising awareness AND raising money to help local cancer patients—they raised more than $12,000 for Oregon Cancer Foundation last year alone.

Because of the support from our donors—individuals and large companies, Team Endure and the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink team—we are able to provide a helping hand when it’s needed most. We are humbled and we are thankful.

Now that you know a little more about who we are and what we do, please consider getting involved. It takes a village, and volunteers and extra hands are always welcomed. Please contact us at info@oreogncancerfoundation.org or at 541-632-3654 to learn more.