Former Kansas University football coach Don Fambrough will finally get the chance to make good on a promise he made to himself nearly six years ago.
At that time, Fambrough's wife, Del, was losing her battle with cancer, and he knew her nurses from Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association were doing everything in their power to make her final days comfortable and peaceful. After Del died, Fambrough vowed that if an opportunity arose to repay those nurses and their agency, he would seize it.
Now, Fambrough has his chance.
On Saturday, the organization, which provides medical care and services to the elderly, homebound and terminally ill, will host its first major fundraising event. Fambrough is serving as honorary chairman for "3-D: Dine, Dance and Donate."
"I'm thrilled to have an opportunity to finally contribute all that I can to help this group," Fambrough said. "I don't know how any other organization could be as important, as helpful, to a community as this one is."
The event will begin with a series of dinner parties at the homes of 32 host couples. Each party will include a meal and a brief educational segment on the benefits of the organization. Guests will then be asked to make a donation; organizers suggest they contribute what diners typically would spend on a nice evening out.
Following dinner, the groups will convene at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H., for dancing, dessert and a raffle.
Judy Bellome, executive director, said she hopes the event will raise at least $10,000. The primary beneficiary of the fundraising will be the agency's telemonitoring program.
Telemonitors are machines, hooked up to a patient's telephone line, that monitor vital signs. The information is transmitted to a nurse who can then assess the patient's conditions and needs daily and determine whether a follow-up visit is necessary.
"Studies have shown that these machines can really decrease the number of emergency room and hospital visits for patients because their condition is being monitored every day," said Kim Lowry, marketing and development manager for the agency.
Bellome said the fundraiser's mission goes beyond equipment and money.
"The purpose is really twofold," she said. "Of course, first there's the money for the machines, but the second is to let people know what we do. We want to teach people about what resources exist in the community and that we're there to take care of everyone who needs help."
Fambrough hopes his story will help.
"Through my experience, I hope others will learn what a valuable thing we have here in our community, and they'll see that it's available to help them in the same way it helped me," he said.