Updated: Aug 31, 2021
Heidi Lewis, (from left to right), Kim Simin, Marie Sullivan, Hayley Weyhe and founder of the Bob Perks Fund, Doreen Perks, pose at last year’s Night at the Races fundraising event where people were able to bet on horse races. Due to the pandemic, the group has had to cancel many of their annual fundraisers leaving them $25,000 short of their goal for 2020. To cover this, they have launched a special “Strive for 25” GoFundMe effort to raise $25,000 in 25 days.
A local group that helps cancer patients is hoping to raise $25,000 in 25 days to replace the funds lost by the cancellation of their annual events due to the COVID-19 virus.
Since 2006 the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund has been helping cancer patients with the extra expenses not covered by insurance or other agencies.
“Each year, the Bob Perks Fund allocates more than $230,000 to fund cancer patient applications for our neighbors who face eviction, utility shutoffs, food shortages and the inability to travel for cancer treatment.
“Their support includes helping with rent, utilities, groceries, car insurance, and gas to ensure patients can reach their appointments and treatments,” according to their website bobperksfund.org.
Overall it has distributed more than two million dollars to these individuals in Blair, Centre, Clearfield, and Huntingdon Counties in 14 years.
Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 crisis, many of their annual fundraisers have been cancelled.
“Because the pandemic has caused the cancellation of six key fundraising events, the Bob Perks Fund is experiencing a huge decrease in donations during 2020,” said Development Coordinator Marjann Young in a recent press release.
“To fund every eligible cancer patient application through December 31, the Bob Perks Fund needs $50,000. $25,000 is currently in hand because the generous sponsors of cancelled events asked for their event sponsorship dollars be retained by the Bob Perks Fund to help cancer patients.
“To reach the $50,000 needed for the remainder of 2020, the Bob Perks Fund has launched “Strive for 25,” a Go-FundMe effort to raise $25,000 in 25 days to match the funds already received”.
The support provided by the Bob Perks Fund is vital to those struggling with cancer as numerous quotes on their website atest.
“With help from the Bob Perks Fund I was able to focus on my health and getting better rather than worrying myself sicker on how to pay for basic necessities like groceries and the electric bill,” said one woman.
“If it were not for the Bob Perks Fund, I don’t know what we would have done. We are so thankful for the generosity they have shown to us. We feel truly blessed to live in this community,” said one husband and father of four in regard to assistance he received.
“Losing my husband to cancer in 2009 was devastating but the recent diagnosis of malignancy in my seven year old daughter was more than I could bear. I am so thankful that the Bob Perks Fund helped ease my burden with financial support when I had so much more to think about. It is such a daunting task to manage everyday life when your child has a life-threatening disease and because of your help, I was afforded some peace of mind,” said another recipient.
In 2019, of the funds distributed, 26% was for gift cards for food and gas, 53% for rent and utilities, 15% for auto expenses, and 6% for communications/Internet.
To apply for assistance, cancer patients need to be referred from a cancer treatment center. Money is not given to the patients but is provided directly to a creditor or vendor or through a gift card for food/gas. Assistance is limited to a total of $750 for three months, according to the website.
The Bob Perks Fund honors Bob Perks of State College who died from cancer when he was only 42-years-old.
Even before his diagnosis, Perks was a supporter of those suffering from cancer as a founding member of Penn State’s “Coaches vs. Cancer”.
After his death, his wife, Doreen established the fund to continue his commitment to these people.
Kristin Sides, BS, a Patient Navigator at Mount Nittany Medical Center, had this to say about the fund.
“Without the BPCAF there would be a gap in our ability to help patients who need financial assistance.
“Situations do arise where a patient needs a prescription or durable medical equipment right away and they cannot afford the co-pay-we turn to Bob Perks Fund and they are always responsive when we need them.
“In this way, it is truly a lifesaving assistance program. I do not know what we or our patients would do without the Bob Perks Cancer Assistance Fund.”
In Clearfield County alone, they have helped 728 cancer patients since 2012, according to a press release from the Clearfield County Charitable Foundation that has helped fund the group with annual grant awards.
CCCF Executive Director Mark McCracken said in the release that “The partnership between the Charitable Foundation and the Bob Perks Fund is beneficial for cancer patients and their families in communities throughout the county. The support provided by the Bob Perks Fund to these individuals in need of help fits with the goals of the Charitable Foundation and the donors that support our annual grant program”.
To join these groups in helping cancer patients, you can make a donation to the “Strive for 25” program via their Go Fund Me campaign through a link on their website, or you can mail donations to the Bob Perks Fund, PO Box 313, State College, PA 16804-0313.