Community meal raises $12,000 for local family

A benefit dinner held Saturday evening at First Mennonite Church raised about $12,000 for Vickie and Ted Russell of Hillsboro.

Vickie Russell was diagnosed in October with lung cancer and has gone through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Just recently another lump was found,” said Judy Jantz, fund-raiser chair. “So she’s starting her treatments all over again.”

Jantz is office manager and Russell is receptionist at Preferred Medical Associates in Hillsboro.

Jantz and committee members Bonnie Funk and Verda Albright organized the benefit, which also involved many First Mennonite members.

“The overwhelming response from the church and the community was just awesome,” Jantz said. “And I’m sure there’s more money coming in.”

Russell will be participating in a research project, designed to help combat the cancer, at the National Institute of Health in Maryland. Money raised will help defray costs for her husband to accompany her. The institute will only pay for her expenses and transportation.

“The money raised can also be used for medical treatment, food and motel expenses,” Jantz said. “Her sick time and vacation time is running low, so the money could also help for that.”

Prior to the event, the committee asked for volunteers and food donations from friends and the community. They also contacted the post office, the church, Preferred Medical Associates and the local women’s bowling league for support.

About 100 volunteers helped during the event, which lasted from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

“It couldn’t have gone on without everybody’s help,” Jantz said.

Hillsboro Ford-Mercury cleared its parking lot adjacent to the church so volunteers could help park cars.

All who attended were greeted at the door by members of the Russell family.

“We had a long sheet of paper for all those who wanted to sign their names or write well wishes,” Jantz said.

The meal included grilled smoked pork chops, shredded hash-brown potato casserole, green beans, bread and pie.

“I’m overwhelmed how the community can draw together and be a family,” Jantz said.

Although her committee instigated the event, Jantz said she wanted to thank everyone who contributed and made the fund-raiser a success.

“And I want everybody recognized, down to the smallest job, including those who just prayed that the event would be a success,” Jantz said. “We also need to recognize that God’s hand was in the midst of all of this.”

For information and additional donations, contact Jantz at 947-2396 or First Mennonite Church at 947-5662.

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