June, 2005

Kenzie Kases

Monks Foundation making a difference in kid's lives
Fountain Hills Times

If you visit Phoenix Children’s Hospital Oncology Department, chances are good you will see many children pulling wheeled suitcases behind them. These cases are filled with toys, arts, crafts, DVDs, a portable DVD player and comfort items. They are a gift from the McKenzie Monks Foundation to help children who are enduring long days of cancer treatment.
The inspiration behind the “Kenzie Kase” comes from McKenzie Monks, a four-year-old Fountain Hills girl who lost her battle with cancer in August of 2003, just weeks before her fifth birthday. McKenzie always had her wheeled suitcase, filled with her favorite toys, whenever she had to go for cancer treatment. The foundation was formed by McKenzie’s family as well as the many others who loved her and wanted to see her spirit and name carry on.
The foundation focuses on helping kids who are in the same predicament as McKenzie was in battling cancer. “Everyone who hears McKenzie’s story feels a connection to her,” said Denise Monks, McKenzie’s mom. “She definitely left a huge impact for a child who lived so few years. It’s amazing to our family that so many people know her story and say that she changed their thinking. We are so proud to have established this foundation in her name and spirit. She was an amazing little girl.”
Thanks to the many people who have donated their time and resources, the foundation has been able to purchase, assemble and distribute well over 100 Kenzie Kases. They have also been able to supply toy rooms in oncology departments with toys, games, arts and crafts since this foundation kicked off in September 2004.
Denise added, “We hope to expand our case distribution. But one of our main goals is to create a toy room called ‘Kenzie’s Korner’ in the oncology wing of an area hospital. We would like to build stock and maintain this toy room. Our hope is that it will benefit cancer patients for years to come.”
The Monks family personally oversees all functions of the foundation. What once was their basement is now “Foundation Central,” where Michelle, 15, and Mandy, 14, help parents Denise and Richard stuff each case full with as many age appropriate items as will fit.
Denise said, “The time commitment to the foundation is huge! We spend time fund raising, shopping, stocking and packing cases. We make every attempt to deliver as many cases as we can and spend time with the kids and their families.
“It can be very emotional, but it is also very rewarding knowing that we are making someone happy in McKenzie’s name.
“These kids are going through such a difficult time. Some days we walk into the clinic and it’s a flash back to the days we spent there with McKenzie, hoping for a cure. I definitely have to take a deep breath and fight back the tears.”
I try not to tell McKenzie’s story to the families. They are scared enough about the uncertainty of their future and our story is a testament to their fears.
The response has been overwhelming. The mail box is filled with thank you letters that warm the heart, Denise said.
Cathy House of Phoenix Children’s Hospital writes, “I cannot even begin to tell you how much joy you and your donors have given to our oncology patients…..it is such a ray of sunshine for so many of our patients and their families.”
The family of the first case recipient, three-year-old Addy Rideout, wrote, “The Kenzie Kases are such a blessing. I see children everywhere with them. Addy loves hers. We keep it in the truck packed and ready to go.”
The mother of cancer patient Rosie writes, “Thank you for bringing a smile to my daughter’s face. That was the most wonderful sight in the world to me. Rosie was so excited about everything in the case she talks about it all the time and to anyone who is willing to listen!
“We are so grateful to you for doing this. It brought a sunny day where there are mostly clouds and rain. You are like angels who help all these children.”
The letters go on and on…
This foundation runs on love – love for McKenzie, her memory and the many children who are forced to battle this ruthless disease.
With the appreciation expressed by those whose lives the foundation has touched and an inspiration like McKenzie, the future holds many bright days for the McKenzie Monks Foundation.