Each year hundreds of rural Vermont cancer patients struggle with the cost of transportation to access life-saving treatment. This year, with the rising cost of gas, many Vermonters delayed treatment simply due to their inability to afford the transportation to get to the hospital. For the 2nd year, NorthCountry Federal Credit Union (NCFCU) stepped in to address this rising issue. In 2021, NCFCU and the Cancer Patient Support Foundation partnered to create the NorthCountry Federal Credit Union Rural
Transportation Fund. This year NCFCU awarded $15,000, double their donation from 2021, to support rural Vermont cancer patients.
“Part of bettering our communities is bettering the lives of those who live within them,” says Kathryn Lagerstedt, Senior Vice President of Strategic Engagement at NorthCountry Federal Credit Union. “This donation is an extension of the notion that no one fights alone, and we hope this fund can offer some relief to patients during a difficult time.
“The most heartbreaking stories that I hear are patients saying they delayed treatment because the cost of traveling back and forth to the hospital was too great,” according to Sarah Lemnah, Executive Director of CPSF. “Vermont patients are deciding everyday if they should fill up their tank to drive to treatment or take care of their family’s basic needs like food, rent, and utilities. The NorthCountry Federal Credit Union Rural Transportation Fund allows CPSF to better support rural Vermonters, so transportation is not a hurdle for treatment.”
CPSF supports over 500 local cancer patients each year, removing barriers to treatment and helping them meet their basic needs. For 20 years, CPSF has been the only local statewide fund supporting patients and their families. Nearly 11,000 families have received over $2.8 million since the organization’s inception.
he paddles are put away, the tents have gone back into storage, and paddlers have earned a well-deserved rest, but the spirit of the dragon lives on even after the successful completion of the 16th annual Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival.
Sunday, August 7 saw a flurry of activity down at the waterfront. 1,828 participants (including 41 teams paddling) and donors worked together to make the fundraising festival a success. The top fundraising team was Kim’s One Boob Crew–a new community team led by Kim who is recovering from a mastectomy due to breast cancer. Sweet Charity, and Tachy for Ta-Tas also fell in the top three fundraisers. Donations continue to come in in support of this year’s partner, the Cancer Patient Support Foundation.
A highlight of the day was the traditional breast cancer survivor flower ceremony where the breast cancer survivor teams tethered their boats in a flotilla formation, listened to Bonnie Jean Aharonian sing a song written by a daughter of a Dragonheart Vermont member and breast cancer survivor, and paying homage to those diagnosed with breast cancer with sunflowers donated by the Last Resort farm.
Thoughts from Nina Atkinson, Executive Director of DragonHeart Vermont reflect the success of the event. “It was a great day for Vermont's cancer patients. We have missed being here after sheltering from COVID, so this is a special year for us. The weather was hot, but the sun was out and we saw huge smiles both on and off the water. With your help, we at Dragonheart Vermont support breast cancer survivors and cancer survivors. This year, the Cancer Patient Support Foundation shares your pledges, so that they can help Vermont families impacted from cancer. Thank you to all who came out today to have fun for such a great cause.”