As many of you know I’m committed to community service. I’ve found a joy in helping nonprofits in my community and I learn so much by giving of my time. Last year I was honored when I was asked to be on the Board of Directors of the Brenda Mehling Cancer Fund (BMCF). This organization was started by Brenda with the help of the Santa Clarita Valley Chapter of Junior Chamber International (The Jaycees) in 2001 to support cancer patients ages 18-40 as they undergo treatment. It provides services to meet daily needs that are not covered by insurance. Typical grants cover $500 worth of medical co-payments, rent, transportation, repairs and groceries.
Brenda Mehling was a Jaycee in Santa Clarita, CA. In her late twenties she was diagnosed with breast cancer and received generous support to overcome her illness. During the process, she realized the health care system was not equipped to meet many patients’ day-to-day needs through months of treatment. Brenda always thought of others, so inevitably she set up the Fund to help them. In February of 2004, Brenda lost her second battle against cancer, but the BMCF continues to realize her vision to help young people fighting this disease.
Each week the BMCF gets approximately 10-15 requests for help. Yearly, we are able to help about 20% of those who need it. Since it was founded, the Fund has provided almost $300,000 in services for over 400 adults across 30 different states.
We are the little nonprofit that could. Much like Jackie Chan, we’re little but powerful.
Our biggest fundraising event of the year is the Fight it! 5K. This year I co-chaired this event for the second year in a row.
Let me preface that I try really hard to be a positive person. I generally see life as good, the glass as full and the sun is shining, but organizing a charity event with almost 70 volunteers and goals to have 400 runners and raise $40,000 can be daunting.
Plus, as an avid runner and race goer, I am committed to having a well-organized, fun and safe race. I’ve been to races where they ran out of cups and others where they ran out of water and others where I didn’t know which way to run….none of that could happen at “MY“ race!
And things went wrong. We didn’t get the amount of sponsors we wanted, some of our donations fell through, volunteers are difficult because they’re donating their time and volunteer work tends to get pushed down the priority list when necessary.
BUT…for every sponsorship we didn’t get, 3 people raised money through our website and donations.
For person who couldn’t step up, three more came to my rescue.
And on race day, every stressful day leading up to it was erased when I saw the smiling faces of kids finishing the 1K with the Chick fil-A cow, the tired but happy faces of people finishing their first 5K and the accomplishment of the folks that ran our difficult and hilly 10K.
I got to encourage people in their first race, I got to help local small businesses promote themselves by having them in our vendor village, I got to see the faces of people who won age group awards.
I got to hand out prizes to people who raised the most money.
By 10am that morning I was exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally but my heart and my soul could run have run a marathon.
So, sometimes you run the race and sometimes you “run” the race, but the results are the same….
I’m proud to say that our “little” race had over 340 runners and raised over $27,000. The BMCF will open funding in July and all of that money will immediately go to young people fighting cancer.
And that makes every second of stress worth it…