By Heather Lusk
Four years ago the Kahoun family faced the unimaginable – a Leukemia diagnosis for their three-year-old daughter Ruby. The devastating diagnoses was met with overwhelming support from the community through fundraisers, meals and gifts as the young girl battled the disease and eventually went into remission.
Now, the family is looking to provide support for others in similar situations through their nonprofit, “Just Win, Ruby! Community Connection.” The organization will host its biggest fundraiser of the year, Family Fun Lacrosse Day on May 2 in Zionsville.
“Once Ruby was diagnosed it was amazing all of the people we did not know, the people we kind of knew, the amazing support and prayers and gift ideas and blankets and meals,” said Jenny Kahoun, Ruby’s mother, who described the outpouring as “humbling.” “The kind of support we never knew existed, and we never said we needed, it was just given to us.”
Kahoun recognized that the help and encouragement they were experiencing wasn’t always a common thread among patients and their families.
“We would go to the clinic and see families who weren’t in a community like Zionsville and who didn’t receive support,” she said.
“Just Win, Ruby!” became a family mantra while facing the battle with leukemia together. After Ruby’s remission, Kahoun thought it would be fitting to continue this mantra on behalf of other families.
“I never saw myself running a non-profit, but it’s been rewarding,” said Kahoun, who now serves as president of the foundation that operates from her dining room table.
JWRCC has helped more than 70 families who struggle financially due a child’s medical diagnosis. While most are affected by cancer, the foundation would like to help families of any childhood illness.
“It’s nice that we can branch out and help these other patients,” said Amy Haskamp, a clinical nurse specialist at Riley who was one of Ruby’s nurses and is on JWRCC’s eight-member board. “I hear the story of a parent being concerned about finances. I take note that patients have been in the hospital for an extended period of time and I’ll ask the question: ‘how are you doing with bills?’ We can help.”
JWRCC has helped cover expenses such as utility bills, car repair, hotel stays, medical supplies not covered by insurance, home repairs and even funeral costs. This will hopefully enable families to focus on their child’s care instead of day-to-day worries.
Most unique about the organization’s structure is its quick turnaround time when it receives a call for help.
“Usually the check is in the mail or okayed within 24 hours,” Kahoun said.
Family Fun Lacrosse Day
During Ruby’s battle with leukemia, the lacrosse community provided exceptional support to the family, and the inaugural event two years ago was meant as a thank you to them. Ruby’s father, Craig Kalhoun, played and coached lacrosse at Butler University.
The success prompted the organization to turn the event into a larger fundraiser complete with an auction, bounce houses and various children’s activities, but the focus of the day is a lacrosse tournament. This year local lacrosse teams will play others in the Indianapolis area instead of one another as in the past. About 700 players are expected to participate.
Food trucks and high school concessions will be available throughout the day with a portion of proceeds going to JWRCC.
Last year the organization raised $21,000 through the event and organizers hope to surpass that amount this year.
The virtual auction will be run through Qtego, making donations easy for those who would like to help but are unable to attend. Bidding will take place at qtego.net/qlink/justwinruby between 9:30 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.
“I want to thank the people of Zionsville because they’ve been a tremendous help,” Haskamp said. “It’s humbling how wonderful the community of Zionsville is,”
Kahoun is eager to see the organization continue its growth. “I can’t wait until we hit the 100th patient,” she said. “I would love to see it grow outside of Indiana and see our supporters grow as well.”
What: Family Fun Lacrosse Day
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 2
Where: ZCHS athletic fields and Jennings Park
More info: www.justwinruby.org.