September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so it's appropriate the Rotary Club of Fulton just received approval for two grants to assist the Super Sam Foundation with its efforts to eradicate childhood cancer.
These grants from Rotary District 6080 will be matched by Fulton Rotary for a total donation of $5,000.
The Super Sam Foundation is a 501(c)3 pediatric cancer foundation that was founded in 2014 in memory of 6-year-old Sam Santhuff, who was known in the community as "Super Sam." The foundation focuses on raising awareness, funding research and supporting families in the fight. It is an all-volunteer organization based in Callaway County.
These grants will go to support Super Sam and Ava's Avengers, a subgroup started by Sam's twin sister, Ava, to support siblings of children battling cancer.
"We are so honored to be considered for this grant opportunity by our local Rotary Club," Cassie Santhuff, Sam and Ava's mother, said. "We look forward to working with them on our planned projects to carry out Sam's wish of providing comfort to our local heroes in the fight."
One of its activities of the Super Sam Foundation is called "comfort packs," which are custom totes filled with comfort items such as stuffed animals, small blankets, movies and soft clothing.
"Comfort packs are distributed to children who are experiencing cancer treatment and recovery," Fulton Rotary President Sherry McCarthy said. "This is a bleak time for the child, and we hope to provide a bright spot in their day through the gift of items that they can use throughout their ordeal."
"We asked the members of this group what we could help them with, and they asked for Pura Vida bracelets, which are customizable string bracelets," McCarthy said. "Ava's Avengers would like to distribute and wear these bracelets to demonstrate their commitment to the cause of pediatric cancer."
Pura Vida bracelets are a popular string bracelet that can be customized to the cause which the wearer supports. Rotary members will assist Ava's Avengers in selecting, designing and purchasing Pura Vida bracelets. They also will assist in the distribution of bracelets at local treatment centers and to the siblings of children undergoing cancer treatment.
This isn't Rotary Club's only involvement in medical-related causes.
Another Rotary Foundation program, the Holtz-Beahon Kidney Transplant Program is named in part for the late Mike Beahon, a former member of the Rotary Club of Fulton. Beahon was governor of Rotary District 6080 when he died of kidney failure in July 2014, two weeks after being installed.
"Mike had a huge impact on others in our community and even across the globe," Mary Ann Beahon said. "My husband touched a lot of lives, first through his involvement in the Jaycees and then through Rotary."
She explained he traveled to 52 countries as area director of Europe, Africa and the Middle East for Jaycees International in the 1980s and lived in Nigeria for 17 months. He returned to Africa in 2009-10 to set up Rotary projects in Rwanda and Tanzania with his friend, Bob Hansen.
"It warms my heart that humanitarian efforts continue in Mike's name even after he is gone," Beahon said. "This kidney transplant program is only one example. Fulton Rotary's project to reduce the mortality rate of mothers and children in Tanzania is another. In addition, there have been clean water projects in Kenya and Mexico dedicated to him. It is amazing."
This month, the program received a $396,000 global grant to fund a kidney transplant program in the country of Mexico.
Rotary districts contribute to the program through Heart 2 Heart, a cooperative effort between Rotarians in the "Heart of America" and in the "Heart of Mexico." A total of 17 districts and six clubs donated anywhere from $2,500-$25,310 this year, with District 6080 contributing $13,500.
The program aims to provide life-saving kidney transplants, primarily for young women and men ages 15-49. It is a cooperative effort between four private hospitals in Mexico, Mexico District 4170, U.S. and other partners, the Ayudar Foundation of Mexico and The Rotary Foundation. Grant program recipients all have a high financial need. The program's goal is to "save a life a week" by funding at least 52 kidney transplants per year.
Heart 2 Heart Finance Coordinator Ron Appuhn said kidney failure is especially prevalent in Mexico due to risk factors including diabetes, poverty and poor diets. Mexico's waiting list for kidney transplants is thousands of recipients long.