No one should have to navigate a medical crisis all alone.

Those facing serious medical illness are likely to have a team of medical professionals by their side to see them through their treatment. But support outside the medical system can be hard to find.

In Hankinson, N.D., Cares for Cancer is working to lend a hand and fill that gap.

“Whether you’re facing a short-term recovery or a long battle ahead, there are so many hurdles in the medical journey, and Medicaid or insurance will only take you so far,” says Cares for Cancer committee co-chair Tara Steffens. “We’re working to get financial aid directly into the hands of those impacted by severe illness and ease that burden.”

The nonprofit was originally founded to keep community support close to home. It awards ten $500 grants each month to alleviate the financial burdens community members and their families experience as they battle severe illness or medical hardship.

“We'd volunteer and fundraise through larger organizations like Relay for Life, but we didn’t have a similar avenue to funnel that support directly to our community. It was all going to larger organizations,” says Steffens. “We founded Cares for Cancer to keep that support grounded in our community to go directly to our neighbors in need.”

As the group has grown from a small grassroots community effort to a dedicated crew of 28 community volunteers and an official 501(c)3 organization, so has its impact.  In total, the group has granted over $250,000 in funds to over 650 individuals spread across 18 communities in five counties and three states.

The organization’s work is funded solely by surrounding communities, businesses and individuals who often take a hands-on approach to organize initiatives and raise funds. Local efforts have ranged from lemonade stands and gumball sales in local schools to classic car shows and benefits organized by restaurants.   

And now Cares for Cancer will have support from the Cenex® brand. The nonprofit was recently selected as the recipient of a $25,000 Hometown Pride grant, presented by Cenex and Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley, based in Fairmount, N.D. The grant initiative was established by Cenex, the energy brand of CHS, to support the philanthropic efforts that connect and support rural communities. 

Cares for Cancer was nominated by Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley for the organization’s dedication to directly supporting local community members battling cancer and the families who care for them.

“Cancer is a devastating disease that can take over a person’s entire life,” says Keith Muehler, petroleum manager of Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley. “We are extremely grateful to work with Cenex to support organizations like Cares for Cancer.”

The group will use its Hometown Pride grant funds to make an even bigger impact, by awarding 10 additional $500 grants per month, for a total of 50 additional grants over the next five months, to community members in need. 

“We are overjoyed to know that we are able to make even more of an impact within Hankinson, N.D., and the surrounding communities, thanks to Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley and Cenex,” says Tara Steffens, committee co-chair of Cares for Cancer. “Helping just one additional family would be wonderful, but to award 50 more people with grants means more to us than words can express.” 

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