September 17, 2004

'Kase' helps kids with cancer

F.H. family marks birthday of child who inspired gifts
By Erin Reep
Scottsdale Tribune

For five weeks, 2-year-old Addy Rideout has suffered the effects of radiation treatments. She faces 42 weeks of chemotherapy as she battles inoperable bladder cancer.

On Thursday, a Fountain Hills family helped ease Addy’s suffering with a "Kenzie Kase," a child-size suitcase filled with a DVD player, three movies, stuffed toys, books, and a fluffy pink blanket.

The suitcase is the fulfillment of a vision of a Fountain Hills family to remember their youngest daughter and sister McKenzie Monks, who died of kidney cancer at age 4 in August 2003.

Richard and Denise Monks and their daughters Michelle, 15, and Mandy, 13, gave suitcases of toys to 20 children Thursday at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in memory of "Kenzie," made possible through a foundation they created in her name.

”Daddy! I’ve got Nemo," said Addy, her head bald from the treatments, as she ran to her parents, holding up what her mother said is the girl’s favorite movie, "Finding Nemo."

Addy donned a pink purse and held up a flavored lip balm from the suitcase, showing her parents. The Rideouts discovered Addy had cancer just seven weeks ago, and said they are still "numb" with shock. As Camie Rideout bent down to receive the suitcase with her daughter, her eyes filled with tears.

”I’m so sorry it took this for us to meet, but I want to thank you so much for this Kenzie Kase," she said to the Monks. Addy attempted to pull the wheeled suitcase behind her, the case only slightly smaller in stature than she.

The Monks family cared for McKenzie for 1-1 /2 years, giving her hospice care at home in her final days of life. They created the McKenzie Monks Foundation to help deal with their grief. The foundation raised more than $400,000 at a golf tournament in May to fund the Kenzie’s Kases project.

Thursday would have been McKenzie’s sixth birthday. Following a short ceremony, 60 hospital staff members, family members and friends released pink balloons into the air in her honor and sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

Family friends Kim Hayes of Phoenix and Mary Beth Groves of Scottsdale helped pack the cases on Wednesday. ”It’s amazing that something so beautiful could come out of something so tragic," Hayes said to Groves after the release of the balloons.