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Bob Perks Fund launches "Strive for 25" fundraiser

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

Rock the 80s Band Dancing

MARK TOCI and Olivia Jones of the JR Mangan Band perform at Rock the 80s, one of the Bob Perks Fund's most popular fundraisers.

STATE COLLEGE — Like many nonprofits, the Bob Perks Fund has found itself having to think outside of the box when it comes to fundraising in 2020. When the COVHM9 pandemic shut down several of the fundraising events it typically relies on, it found itself about $50,000 short of what it needed to get through the end of the year.

The organization provides short-term financial assistance for basic necessities to individuals who are facing financial hardships while battling cancer. A shortfall of $50,000 could potentially be devastating to a lot of people who need help with things like rent, utilities, gas or groceries due to their cancer treatments.

Fortunately, Executive Director Norma Keller said, event sponsors have already covered half of that $50,000 gap.

"We have been so blessed, because our special events partners have given us the dollars that they pledged to us for sponsoring events, even when the events were cancelled,'' she said. Some of those events included the "Hoops-a-Palooza" 3v3 basketball tournament in March and a "Night at the Races" event originally scheduled for next month.

To raise the remaining $25,000, the Bob Perks Fund will kick off a 25-day GoFundMe campaign it calls "Strive for 25." The event will run from September 1 to 25, and will be highlighted on its Facebook page and through direct email communication with past supporters.

The Bob Perks Fund was founded in 2006 by Doreen Perks after losing her husband, Bob, to melanoma in 2005. Although it remains a "tiny organization" with just 3 part-time employees, according to Keller, it has distributed more than $2 million to cancer patients in Centre, Blair, Cambria and Huntingdon counties.

Ail recipients are referred to the organization by hospitals and medical facilities, and could be eligible for assistance if they have had a decrease of income and an increase in expenses because of cancer. In 2019 alone, the organization raised and allocated more than $230,000.

Although the campaign is focused on getting through 2020, Keller said, there are obvious concerns about 2021 as well.

For one thing, the organization receives a large portion of funds each year from Penn State Coaches vs. Cancer. In February of 2020, Coaches vs. Cancer presented Bob Perks Fund with $52,000.

"That all came from events they held in 2019," Keller explained. "We would have anticipated another $50,000 next February, but they had to cancel their golf tournament this year, which is their biggest event. So we know we'll have to take a loss next year, it's not a good situation for us."

As the pandemic situation remains volatile, the status of one of the Bob Perks Fund's most popular fundraising events, "Rock the 80s," held each February at The State Theatre, is also in jeopardy, as are many small community events that have become valuable resources for the organization.

Still, Keller is optimistic that the community will step up to support the Bob Perks Fund as it has faithfully done since 2006.

"The Bob Perks Fund is so blessed with donors and partners," she said. "For a tiny organization to have $2 million to distribute to cancer patients, you have to know that a lot of people care about cancer, and a lot of people trust that the Bob Perks Fund is the perfect vehicle to help cancer patients. We couldn't be more fortunate."

Donations can be accepted through the Strive for 25 GoFundMe site, which will be launched on Sept. 1. A link to the GoFundMe page will be available through social media and on the Bob Perks Fund website, where donations can also be accepted:

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