It’s Colors of Cancer month in the Bitterroot valley once again when people from all walks of life and all ages come together to support the team of their choice in a race to see who can raise the most money to fight cancer.
According to Stacie Duce of the Daly Hospital Foundation, the Colors of Cancer campaign is really a grassroots effort. People who are cancer survivors or people who love someone who has been touched by cancer, have been working for years doing bake sales, sponsoring small events and raffles and promotions in their businesses to support cancer patients not only with finances but also with encouragement and messages of hope.
She said COVID-19 restrictions have interrupted much of that traditional fundraising recently but some businesses are still helping in innovative ways. Evans Ace Hardware in Hamilton, for instance, has taken on one of the new colors: White for Lung Cancer. Owner of the business, David Evans, has been a big supporter of the Colors of Cancer the last few years, but this year he decided to honor his parents who originally opened the store in Hamilton and who have both succumbed to the effects of lung cancer. His father Thomas E. Evans passed away in June at the age of 76.
On Saturday, October 18, the staff at Evans Ace will be donning white Colors of Cancer t-shirts and encouraging a “round up” at the cash registers, when customers can round up what they owe to the next dollar and that change will go to the cancer fund. They also have a special basket for the online auction which kicks off on Sunday, October 18th.
Team White is also being supported by Ballet Bitterroot in Hamilton, which is offering two tickets to its annual performance of The Nutcracker on the Colors of Cancer online auction at
Duce said there were lots of auction items and with 16 team colors to choose from there shouldn’t be any problem in finding a color that you would really like to support.
Duce said that with a major investment from First Interstate Bank, “our first major donor,” they are on their way to meeting their fundraising goal already. She said Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle is celebrating their 100th anniversary and decided one way to celebrate was to invest in health-related activities throughout the region that they serve. They were a major supporter of the 5K race held on Oct. 3.
“We have very loyal businesses and individuals who make this a focus of their philanthropy and for that we are really grateful,” said Duce.
The Daly Hospital Foundation played a key role in helping morph the highly successful Sprinkle Pink Campaign against Breast Cancer into the wider Colors of Cancer campaign that raises funds to combat at least 16 forms of cancer. Each cancer color is sponsored annually by a team of individuals or businesses as they all race to out-do each other in fundraising.
There is one aspect of this year’s fundraising that has Duce really excited. That is the possibility of a new cancer center and infusion facility at the hospital.
“We have always raised money to help patients with their expenses such as mammograms and things, but our new administration has some great long-term vision and one of those is having a dedicated cancer and infusion center at the hospital,” said Duce.
She said that momentum was really building towards it when the Covid pandemic hit town and priorities and operations changed quickly. She said the Foundation had to switch its priorities as well and focus upon the caregivers on the front line, “all those people who spent the last six months in ways they probably never imagined in their career.”
But as of October 1, attention has shifted once again to raising money to fight cancer and now, on top of that, the administration has decided to build a new dedicated cancer and infusion facility at the hospital. She said CEO John Bishop recently informed them that the success of the fundraising will be critical in determining the timeline for construction.
“So we feel a real solemn responsibility to be successful, not only with just the fun and exciting Colors of Cancer Campaign, but the very serious opportunity to help a lot of people in the valley once they have a family member or they themselves receive a cancer diagnosis or need some sort of infusion treatment,” said Duce. She said it could save people from having to drive to Missoula on a daily or weekly basis for their treatments.
Duce said that the new space would be a renovation and an addition next to the current main entrance to the hospital. It will be a space dedicated for the sole purpose of cancer treatment and infusions. She said that the administration did a lot of research in designing the space to make it both a physically and mentally healthy experience.
“As a foundation we are extremely happy to have such a goal for our efforts,” said Duce.
“I feel very fortunate to build upon the legacy of people like Elizabeth Kehmeier (a founding board member who recently passed away), and Margaret Daly (one of the hospital’s first major donors) and others who have really dedicated themselves to building up our local non-profit hospital,” said Duce.