BEND, Ore. - A new nonprofit in Bend, the Pediatric Foundation, wants to help Central Oregon families who have a child battling cancer organizer said Monday.
With no cancer treatment available for kids on the High Desert, many parents are faced with huge issues getting their child the care they need.
"There is only one motivation when your child is diagnosed with cancer," Debbie Pantenburg said. "You don't care about anything else except for that child to get the care and treatment they need to survive."
Pantenburg, one of the founders of the nonprofit, said she wanted to help families after her 13-year-old son battled brain cancer.
"Unfortunately for our case, he passed away in July of 2009," Pantenburg said. "But we are completely committed to helping other families who are experiencing our situation."
Too often, families are forced to split up, leaving one parent taking the child to get treated and the other says to work and watch their other kids.
Central Oregon Pediatrics Association pediatrician Dr. Dale Svendsen sees the heartache and headaches up close.
"There are costs involved -- gas, lodging over there, time out of work. And families have large financial stress, in addition to the huge emotional stress," Svendsen said.
The nonprofit wants to help with travel costs, hotel vouchers and provide things like snow tires for crossing the passes in winter.
"They're getting a big boost from the Tour des Chutes, which takes place next Saturday. Founder Gary Bonacker says part of the money raised from this year's event will go to the cause.
"I just feel good that it's all local," Bonacker said. "I feel good that we are taking care of people that are in need here in town."
Although the nonprofit can't take away the pain of having a child with cancer, Pantenburg says they want to act as a support system for families, in whatever way they need.
"Every family that I've met was not looking for someone else to help them," Patenburg said. "They were only looking to survive. So we want to be there for them, to offer them a lot of blessing that we not expecting."
The nonprofit expects to start serving parents and patients in the fall. In the meantime, people can donate right to the Tour des Chutes on behalf of the Pediatric Foundation, Just visit tourdeschutes.org.