By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — EAST SHELBY — They came, hundreds in all, carrying similar memories of times filled with despair, but eased by a helping hand that appeared with understanding and financial assistance.
The 24th Knights Kaderli Memorial Fund Walk/Run was a chance for those touched by the charitable fund’s good work on behalf of cancer patients in Orleans County to pay their gift forward.
They burst forward together from the East Shelby Fire Hall with energy, raising what was estimated early Saturday to be around $20,000 that will directly assist those facing medical bills, transportation costs and financial difficulties in addition to cancer.
“The big thing is that they do it because we’ve helped and they want to do something to help,” said Mary Kaderli Zelazny. “We started with 20 people, but as people have been helped they become members of this family.”
The annual “family” reunion has become a First Saturday in October tradition, from the walk to a picnic and the day of activities at the fire hall.
Many of the walkers and runner have come back year-after-year. Darlene Rich walked with her twin sister Sharlene Saturday for what she thought was probably the 23rd time, dating back to when she would walk with her late son.
The fund helped Rich personally when he was receiving treatment for brain cancer and again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, covering co-pays for medicines not covered by insurance and transportation to Rochester and Buffalo for treatment.
“It was a relief to know that things were taken care of,” said Rich, who underwent six months of radiation and chemotherapy. “The (funding) covered all the way until my last treatment.”
The fund’s local focus is the glue that bonds the community together. Recipients must be Orleans County residents receiving treatment for cancer.
“The best thing is that all the money stays in Orleans County,” said Julie Wolter, who volunteered at the event.
“They are true to their word,” Rich said.
Zelazny said it comes from knowing. The Kaderli family started the memorial walk to honor their mother, Sue. The Knights family began the fund that later merged with the walk, to honor their dad, Richard.
“The last thing you want to think about are the bills,” Zelazny said. “We want to relieve that.”
The success of the fund and the need to sustain it has spawned other efforts in support of the Knights and Kaderli families’ goal. Attendees could purchase shirts, wristbands, and raffle tickets and they did in droves; but they also bought tickets for the ninth annual Wine Tasting to Benefit the Knights Kaderli Memorial Fund, which the Zinkievich family has organized.
“They’ve helped so many people,” said Gerry Zinkievich, whose husband Jim received assistance from the fund. He passed 11 years ago, but the support his family received hasn’t been forgotten. “They’re a great group.”
The wine tasting event features Leonard Oakes Estates, Schwenk Wine Cellars, Vizcarra Vineyards and Schulze Winery’s best. It will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Sacred Heart Club, with 200 tickets being sold at the club, through Mike Zelazny at the S.A. Cook Building, at Rosenkrans Pharmacy and by members of the Zinkievich family.
As the walk got underway, a group of runner led the way down East Shelby Road toward the fire company checkpoint at Barber Road, the first of three left turns to get back to the fire hall. Behind them was a swarm, moving slower but with purpose.
“Everybody enjoys a country walk,” Zelazny said.
And a great cause.
For more information about the memorial fund, visit knightskaderli.com.