Kickin’ Cancer’s Can, an annual fundraiser for local cancer patients, will be held this Saturday at Parker’s Park in Overlake.
This year marks the 10th consecutive year since the event first began in 2010, excluding one year off for the pandemic.
“Over a decade ago, a group of neighbors in Tooele came together to plan a fundraiser in support of their friend Candice Heaps, who had recently received a devastating cancer diagnosis,” said Amy Stewart, a creator of the event and friend to Heaps. “News of the plan spread by word of mouth and the first Kickin’ Cancer’s Can event was a success.”
After the event, Heaps passed away from her cancer but creators of the event wanted to continue to help other members of the community with cancer.
“We soon realized that the event wasn’t even about collecting the money,” said Melaine Webster, an organizer of the event. “This has become an opportunity to see how many people are there for the recipients. After Candice passed away, we knew we had to do this again.”
Since the initial event in 2010, Kickin’ Cancer’s Can has become a popular event each year.
“Every year since 2010, Kickin’ Cancer’s Can has given much-needed support to members of the community who are fighting cancer,” said Stewart.
“There are a lot of people who find this event really special,” said Webster.
The non-profit group selects recipients and invites community members to spend an evening in a carnival setting where they can participate in a 5-K race and a “kiddie K”, silent auction, dinner, a bake sale, a raffle, and activities for children and families.
All funds collected go to the selected recipients to help with medical bills and other needs.
This year three recipients were chosen.
The first recipient is Patti Whitbeck, a mother of six children, who lives in Tooele City with her husband, Ted, her aging parents, and her two youngest children, according to Stewart.
Whitbeck works for Hinton Family Dental in Stansbury Park and is an active advocate for suicide awareness and prevention.
Whitbeck was diagnosed in 2020 with an incurable form of slow-growing cancer that required the removal of the tumor in her abdomen, as well as monthly injections to slow the growth of the tumors in her lymph nodes and liver.
One of Patti’s friends is quoted saying, “To know Patty is to know resilience, determination, grace in the face of fiery trials, and absolute pure charity for others.”
“We are hoping to show Patti, who has spent her life loving and serving others, how very much she is loved in return,” Stewart said.
The second recipient is Soji Laron, a 36-year-old mother and wife born and raised in Grantsville.
Larson met her husband in kindergarten and later got married. She settled in Grantsville with their two younger children, now aged six and 10, according to Stewart.
Larson loves painting and completing creative projects, along with caring for her home and family.
In April 2021, Larson lost the ability to read, recall names, or speak.
“What first appeared to be a stroke, turned out to be a cancerous brain tumor,” Stewart explained.
Larson’s cancer is incurable, but doctors were able to successfully remove about half of the tumor and are hopeful that chemotherapy and radiation treatments will keep the cancer from spreading.
“Larson and her husband take comfort in knowing they are never alone and we are excited for the opportunity to show them just how true that is,” Stewart said.
The third and final recipient is Jessica Thompson.
“Thompson loves the compassion of the people of Tooele and has called Tooele City home for over 23 years,” said Stewart.
Thompson lives with her husband, Chris, two of their three sons and two dogs that she loves, according to Stewart.
She loves hiking, camping, and watching NASCAR with her family.
Thompson also enjoys volunteering with the Tooele High School marching band and color guard that her sons are involved with, as well as supporting her oldest son as an airman in the U.S Airforce.
Thompson was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Her desire to see her children grow up gives her the strength to keep fighting,” Stewart said. “We look forward to helping her in that fight.”
Kickin’ Cancer’s Can will be held this year at Parker’s Park, located at 1707 Dean Avenue in Overlake from 4 to 9 p.m.
The 5K race will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Those interested in signing up for the 5K or the “kiddie K” can register at kickincancerscan.com
“All members of the community are invited to gather together, socialize, and support this year’s three honorees,” said Stewart.
Those not able to attend the event can donate to the three recipients at kickincancerscan.com/donate