By Leah Sander
AKRON — Cancer patients in Kosciusko and Fulton counties once again are receiving help thanks to a local church.
Beaver Dam United Methodist Church of Akron’s Wheels on Fire-Cancer Crusaders raised more than $34,000 this year. They presented checks on Tuesday, Nov. 24, at the church, with money going to Kosciusko and Fulton County cancer care funds and to help a local woman make cancer care packs for area patients.
Helping local cancer patients in both counties is what spurred the group’s official formation almost five years ago. Those getting money from the care funds can use it to cover basic necessities and medications while they’re battling cancer.
Wheels on Fire has raised more than $100,000 in its existence through events and donations. The amount this year was down from the almost $42,000 they raised last year.
The drop was due to COVID-19. The group had to cancel some of its usual fundraisers, like its main one, Smash Out Cancer, due to the pandemic.
Money still did come in, though.
“The donations of people is phenomenal,” said Wheels on Fire President Lori Miller. “One of our big supporters is Echoes of the Past and they have had us do some food for them. It was like over $8,000 that was raised from that group of (events held).”
The group also raised funds by providing food at one First Friday event this year in Warsaw and for a Pike Lumber Co., of Akron, lunch. The Fulton County Gun Club also once again raised money for Wheels on Fire through a clay shoot.
“A lot of our money comes from memorials,” Miller added, referring to donations given in memory of someone who’s passed away.
Overall Miller said that people are learning of the organization and more are giving to it.
“They see that we’re raising money, and not one cent goes to administrative costs. With the cancer care funds, they don’t get one dime,” said Miller, referring to the K21 Health Foundation and Fulton County Community Foundation, who administer the Kosciusko and Fulton County cancer care funds respectively.
“It’s a God thing,” added Wheels on Fire member Bill Leininger of how they’ve been able to raise funds this year in spite of COVID-19. “And I think it just shows that the community realizes what we’re doing and it’s taken a few years for them to realize just how much we care about what we’re doing.”
Leininger added the group is seeking more volunteers, as some of their 15-20 members are getting older. Members don’t have to be part of the church. To learn how to volunteer, people may reach out through the group’s Facebook page Wheels on Fire Cancer Crusaders.
To donate to the group, people may reach out through Facebook or mail funds to the church at 9798 W. 1000 S., Akron, IN 46910, noting the money is for Wheels on Fire.