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For more than fifty years, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has provided unparalleled cancer care and support for patients and their families before, during, and after treatment. But none of it would be possible without the support of our community of donors.

Philanthropy is more than a fulfilling passion project or rewarding extracurricular endeavor; it is a lifesaving gift. Community support is vital to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s ability to provide gold-standard care and invaluable supportive programs and resources at every stage of the cancer journey.

“We could not do what we do without philanthropic support from our community of donors,” says Mary Bird Perkins Vice President and Chief Development Officer Danielle Mack. “The fight against cancer is a shared endeavor that is only propelled forward when a community comes together—individuals, families, companies, foundations, and organizations partnering with the Cancer Center to provide critical resources and support to patients and their caregivers.”

The support of two philanthropic organizations in particular—the Gonzales Area Foundation and Karnival Krewe de Louisiane—has proven to be vital in advancing the Cancer Center’s mission within the Capital Region.

The Gonzales Area Foundation (GAF) was originally founded by a group of community members with a desire to assist Mary Bird Perkins in making cancer prevention and treatment in Ascension Parish sustainable for generations to come, hosting the inaugural Gonzales Gala in 2016. Since then, they’ve only expanded granting efforts. In 2017, the foundation started Live Well Ascension, an annual prevention and early detection event that offers free cancer screenings to parish residents. In 2018, GAF partnered with Mary Bird Perkins to launch the THRIVE survivorship program at its Gonzales campus, which helps patients reach their health goals through mind-body support groups, art workshops, walking groups, therapeutic massages, health and wellness counseling, and more.

DeEtte DeArmond, a founding member of the Gonzales Area Foundation, says that ensuring patients have access to treatment locally makes a huge difference in lessening the burden of cancer in their daily lives. “The reason why this cause is so dear to our hearts is because it’s in our community,” she says. “People don’t have to travel to New Orleans or Baton Rouge to receive treatment, they can get it right here in Ascension Parish. Being able to help people receive care close to home is something that’s very important to us.”

Even when the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled their annual fundraiser both in 2020 and 2021, GAF stood by their promise to support Mary Bird Perkins patients and families during a time when they needed it most. Since the onset of the pandemic, GAF has donated $160,000 to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Gonzales, and has raised over $600,000 since the original GAF Gala in 2016. This year’s gala will take place on April 2, 2022.

For more than thirty-five years, Karnival Krewe de Louisiane (KKdL) has also dedicated itself to cancer research, prevention, and indigent patient care in the Greater Baton Rouge region. With many of its members having been touched by cancer themselves, KKdL is committed to giving back through promoting a “party with a purpose.” Fun philanthropic events are scheduled for krewe members year-round, culminating with a grand Mardi Gras Ball. This year’s ball will be held on Friday, February 4, 2022 at the Raising Cane’s River Center in downtown Baton Rouge.

KKdL has raised over four million dollars to date for the Cancer Center, all of which has gone toward funding screening and prevention events and critical patient services such as patient navigators, who remove any barriers to care by helping patients navigate the healthcare system, transportation assistance, nutritional supplements, short-term housing, and medical co-pays. In 2020 alone, KKdL’s $325,000 contribution funded more than 8,000 cancer screenings and navigation services for nearly 2,000 patients; along with additional resources such as patient dental care, kid camps, clinical trials, and medical physics support.

“Mary Bird Perkins is so important to our community in general. So many people have been touched through this terrible disease, so to have Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center right here in Baton Rouge means so much,” says KKdL president Katie Graves. “It keeps families together when they’re battling this disease since they don’t have to travel to get top state-of-the-art care.”

To learn more, go to marybird.org/giving. For more information on how to get involved in Gonzales Area Foundation and Karnival Krewe de Louisiane, visit gonzalesareafoundation.org and karnivalkrewe.com.