John Kizer is floored by the support Monroe County Cancer Supporters is providing for his mother as she battles cancer.
Kizer, an attorney who lives in Springfield and a graduate of Paris High School, was sitting with his mother, Rose, Saturday night at the 7th Annual Blow Away Cancer dinner to raise money for Monroe County Cancer Supporters.
"It is just such a great organization because so many people in the community step to help patients with cancer," Kizer said. "If I were to ever move back to Paris, there is no doubt that I would owe a lot of people who have helped my mother."
The event, held this year in the gymnasium of Paris High School, drew some 700 people, who consumed a dinner of baked ham, potato casserole, green beans and a variety of desserts – and more importantly, opened their checkbooks to participate in silent and live auctions of hundreds of items.
There is a single goal for the dinner: raise money to support people fighting cancer in Monroe County.
And Gary Yager, president of Monroe County Cancer Supporters, said the 2018 edition of Blow Away Cancer was a huge success with preliminary estimates predicting $51,800 raised this year – nearly $13,000 above the record year in 2017, when the event was staged at Monroe City High School.
"It is just overwhelming at the support of the community, just so much support," Yager said.
The evening included check presentations from various organizations that conducted fundraisers throughout the year for the organization, including the Eastern Missouri Crappie Club, which generated $17,000 from its annual Jack and Jill crappie tournament on Mark Twain Lake.
Monroe County Cancer Supporters was founded in 2009 with a simple goal. Monroe County residents with a new cancer diagnosis can receive a check for $1,100 to help with expenses while fighting this disease.
In eight years, the organization has helped 336 patients who have received a total of $420,100 in support.
Joanne Bonney, who co-founded the organization in 2009 with Melinda James, said that Saturday’s event was just the continuation of the open-armed support that Monroe County residents and business offer. Bonney now lives in Washington, Mo., but comes back to Monroe County to support the organization.
"It was just a wonderful evening, and excluding the amount we made, it was the best of everything," she said. "When I looked out, I did not see an empty table. I am truly amazed and humbled by the support that Monroe County has given."
Bonney said that Monroe County embraced Cancer Supporters even before the first donation was given to a cancer patient.
"They truly trusted Melinda and me when we started this," she said. "We went to about 15 groups to talk about what we were doing, and they handed us money without hesitation. We had $300 even before we were organized. I am just thrilled and overjoyed that so many people in Monroe County are going to be helped even though I am not a resident there anymore."
Sitting with her son, Rose Kizer said that even before she could ask, volunteers from Monroe County Cancer Supporters were offering assistance.
"When I was diagnosed with cancer, before I knew it, someone was at my door with a check with no questions. Just the support," she said.
Volunteers from the organization have been driving her for weekly chemotherapy treatments in Columbia. Kizer, who for 30 years owned the Paris Pharmacy with her late husband, was told two weeks ago by her doctors that was all but gone.
"They are good people," she said of Monroe County Supporters.