When Emily Venters was diagnosed with leukemia four days after her third birthday, her mother's friends from a Lawrence group called MOMS Club did what they could to support the little girl's family.
"They wanted to know what they could do to help us," said Tricia Venters, Emily's mother.
"They brought meals to us once a week for a year, sometimes even three times a week at the beginning (of her daughter's treatment). And they would bring toys to us."
But members of MOMS Club of Lawrence-North, the group to which Venters belongs, wanted to do more.
"We all felt really helpless after Emily was diagnosed. We've helped people through miscarriages and other types of illnesses, but this was the first time that one of the kids (of a mother in the group) had had something really wrong," said Barb Novorr, the group's president.
"We prayed, we sent cards, we sent balloons. The Venters have health insurance, and they don't need any financial assistance. So we decided to do something that helps children who have cancer, as a way to somehow honor the Venters family."
So Novorr and MOMS Club of Lawrence-North have organized a benefit concert -- featuring the popular children's singer/songwriter Jim Cosgrove -- Saturday at the Lawrence Arts Center, with proceeds going to a foundation that assists families who have children with cancer.
All funds raised by the event will be given to the Erin Andra Wilson Foundation, which is coordinated by Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.
Christy Wilson, of Overland Park, directs the foundation. She and her husband, Brett Wilson, launched it in January 2003 in memory of their daughter, Erin. She died at age 12 after an eight-year battle with leukemia.
The foundation provides financial and emotional assistance to families across Kansas who are caring for children with cancer and blood-related illnesses.
All the money raised by the benefit concert will be specifically earmarked to help families and children in Douglas County, Novorr said.
The name of Novorr's group -- MOMS Club -- stands for Moms Offering Moms Support. It's a support network designed for at-home mothers. It has two chapters in Lawrence -- North and South -- each with about 40 active members.
An important part of the mission for MOMS Club chapters is to organize at least one philanthropic or community service project each year to benefit children.
Venters knew of the Wilson Foundation because her daughter had received cancer treatment at Children's Mercy in Kansas City. Social workers there take referrals of families who could be helped by the foundation.
She suggested that if MOMS Club wanted to do something to help families with children who have cancer, the foundation might be a good candidate to benefit from the club's efforts.
The funds raised from the concert are intended to help families pay for costs that health insurance doesn't always cover.
|What: A benefit concert by Jim CosgroveWhen: 10 a.m. SaturdayWhere: Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.Tickets: $5. Donations also may be made to The Erin Andra Wilson Foundation by dropping off checks, made out to the foundation, at the arts center.Ticket info: 843-2787|
"My hope is that this money will provide a second opinion for a child," Venters said. "Maybe it will even save a child's life."
Venters and her husband, Trey, are also the parents of Zachary, 2.
Emily, now 5, is doing fine these days, according to her mother.
"We've finished the roughest patches of her treatment," Tricia Venters said. "Now we're in the lighter phases. Her hair has grown back, and you would never know that she has leukemia."