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Country for a cause: Cancer fundraiser to (hopefully) return in person

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | January 21, 2022 1:00 AM

Editor’s note: The Country Sweethearts event is subject to change, depending on COVID-19 restrictions.

MOSES LAKE — After a year online, the annual Country Sweethearts cancer benefit auction, sponsored by the Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation, will return in person Feb. 5.

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. in the Commercial Building at the Grant County Fairgrounds, 3953 Airway Drive NE, in Moses Lake.

The 13th annual event includes dinner and dancing, as well as live and silent auctions. There’s also an option for people who prefer to participate in the auctions online.

Tickets and registration for the online auction are available through the foundation’s website, www.columbiabasincancerfoundation.org.

“Under the Big Top’’ is the theme. Traditionally, the event is the first weekend in February, which meant it was one of the last in-person community events in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down. The auction, if not the dinner and dance, went on in 2021, switching to an online platform.

But it raised less money, about $75,000 on auction night. Foundation director Angel Ledesma said in an earlier interview a drop in donations, from the auction and in general, left the foundation’s 2022 budget about $90,000 short. Donations have been down the last two years, Ledesma said.

“We really do depend on this benefit auction to get us back up to speed,” Ledesma said earlier.

The money raised goes to support the foundation’s services to cancer patients and their families throughout Grant and Adams counties.

A cancer diagnosis can bring with it some big challenges for patients and their families, in addition to the treatments. Family income might go down at a time of increased expenses. Most cancer treatment requires a trip out of town.

The foundation provides its clients with gas cards to help with some of those travel expenses. It also helps support the bus service operated by People For People, which provides a ride to Wenatchee for cancer patients in treatment. The ride is free for the patient, and caregivers can ride along for a small fee.

Patients who lose their hair during treatment can get hats, wigs, scarves and other hair coverings through the foundation.

The foundation also sponsors a support group for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. Meetings are the third Wednesday of each month at the Red Door Cafe, 202 W. Third Ave. in Moses Lake.

The foundation sponsors the “Meals to Heal” program, which provides food each week to cancer foundation clients. The coronavirus pandemic forced some changes to the program, but it provides deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer, with recipes and nutritional information, and fresh bone broth and pre-prepared meals in the winter. Volunteer drivers deliver the meals to the patient’s home.

Volunteers also work for the foundation to help patients with housework and outdoor chores. The foundation sponsors outdoor cleanup opportunities for volunteers each winter and spring.

Nutritional information is available to cancer patients through the foundation, regardless if they are Meals to Heal participants. And the foundation provides a library for patients, covering subjects related to cancer and its treatment, as well as puzzles and books for pleasure reading.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.

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File photo

Dancers take to the floor at the 2020 Country Sweethearts event, a fundraiser for the Columbia Basin Cancer Foundation.