When their young daughter, Grace, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January 2018, the whole world changed for Rick and Kristen Martinez and their family.
Since, their world has been filled with doctor visits, needles and medicine, but also overflowing with love, community support and the newly founded 501C nonprofit suitably called Grace's Guardians. The nonprofit raised $55,000 at the inaugural Grace's Guardians Golf Classic and Silent Auction in September 2019 and the money was used for care packages for incoming cancer patients at the Oklahoma University Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Seaboard Foods employee Rick Martinez and his wife, Kristen, started the nonprofit to raise awareness for childhood cancer. The nonprofit provides care packages for incoming pediatric cancer diagnosis and their families who are staying at the Oklahoma University Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Valued at $450 each, the donated care packages include:
· A tablet for children to entertain them
· A wagon to store or carry supplies up and down from the hospital, or put a child in when they're too sick to walk in and out of the hospital
· A suitcase, as the hospital becomes a new home
· A thermometer, because monitoring a fever is a necessity
· A food tray, because sometimes kids are too weak eat at a table to eat
· Flu mask, because the flu or flu symptoms can mean hospital stays and delayed treatment
· Gift cards to gas stations, restaurants and coffee shops
· And much more
The Golf Classic and Silent Auction held in September 2019 was a community effort to raise money for the care packages. Seventy-two golfers participated in the event, along with a silent auction and a delicious meal consisting of donated Prairie Fresh® pork. Seaboard Foods volunteers cooked the meal.
Rick mentioned that the support from Seaboard Foods and the community has been abundant, and specifically mentioned a few individuals from the leadership team that have been comforting and supportive for Rick and his family.
"There is no handbook for parents when they learn that their child has cancer," says Kristen Martinez, Grace's mother and wife to Rick Martinez in a heartwarming interview. "In front of Grace, we must be strong and brave, because if she sees us being scared, then she will be scared too. As awful as things are, we have seen more love and kindness from the community. Grace has touched so many people."
In 2018, an estimated 15,590 children were diagnosed with cancer in the United States. But Kristen Martinez says that "…cancer doesn't win." Research centers and nonprofits are working to raise funds for cancer research and to develop treatments suitable for young bodies.
The nonprofit plans to offer care packages to the families of children recieving treatment at hospital in Tulsa, Okla., so that every child in Oklahoma that is diagnosed with pediatric cancer will receive a care package from Grace’s Guardians. They plan to expand to children's hospitals in Amarillo, Texas, Witchita, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.
Visit Grace's Guardian's Facebook page to learn more about the Martinez family and the nonprofit. Additionally, watch this YouTube interview to learn about the family's story and the nonprofit.
Donate to Grace's Guardians by clicking the "donate" button on their website.
Photo credit: EM Photography, A. Carter Creations, Heather Braden and Susan Schmidt
Guests of the Grace's Guardians Golf Classic and Silent Auction could write handwritten notes for the care packages to offer encouragement and thoughts to families who recently learned that their child has cancer.
Seventy-two golfers came to the first golf classic to benefit Grace's Guardians. The golf classic was at the Beaver Pioneer Golf Course in Beaver, Okla., in September 2019.
Community members and local businesses donated items for the silent auction at the inaugural Grace's Guardians Golf Classic and Silent Auction in September 2019. They raised $55,000 at the event and all the proceeds will go towards the care packages that Grace's Guardians provides to new cancer patients at the Oklahoma University Children's Hospital.
The room was overflowing with support for Grace's Guardians and the Martinez family at the benefit in September 2019. It was so full, that some people had to sit outside to eat. The dinner, complete with Prairie Fresh® pork donated by Seaboard Foods, was at the Beaver County Fairgrounds in Beaver, Okla.
Photo credit: Grace's Guardians
Community members and athletic teams rally together to raise money for Grace's Guardians during game days.