Date Unknown

Kenzie Kases aid ailing kids

Family foundation keeps late daughter's name alive
By Jennifer Girardin
Scottsdale Republic

FOUNTAIN HILLS – Whenever McKenzie Monks had to go to the hospital for cancer treatment, she took her little pink Hello Kitty case on wheels.
During 19 months of treatments, she would fill her suitcase with items to keep her busy during chemotherapy sessions. Sadly, McKenzie lost her battle with childhood kidney cancer about two years ago. She was weeks shy of her fifth birthday.
Since then, her family has established a foundation in her name and has distributed “Kenzie Kases” full of toys, DVDs and a portable DVD player to other children suffering from cancer.
“For us, this is a good way to have her spirit live on and keep her name alive,” said her mother, Denise
“We’ll never forget her, and we can do good things in her name,” added her 15-year-old sister, Michelle
The homegrown, non-profit foundation called the McKenzie Monks Foundation is truly family run.
The Monkses’ family basement is a storeroom of sorts with shelves of toys and DVDs of movies like Finding Nemo and Legally Blonde, waiting to be packed up for all age groups, from young toddlers to teenagers.
Rolled up “cuddle blankets” are stacked atop a bookcase that spans the wall. Each case includes one of the soft fleece blankets along with other playthings. The Monks family, including 14-year-old Mandy and father, Richard, trek to the store to buy all of the items for the cases and assemble them when hospitals request them for certain ages.
“Kids ask, ‘Is it mine? Do I get to keep it?’” when they bring the cases to the hospitals, Michelle said. “It’s nothing they expect. It’s something they can control when there are so many things they can’t.”
But the cases add up. The DVD player alone is about $300. Combine that with the case, and other goodies and the price for each is about $500.
“We’ve been so blessed in our following” of donors, Denise said. “They’re helping us carry out a dream.”
Donations have flowed from neighbors and friends to golf enthusiasts. In April, the foundation held its second annual McKenzie Monks Foundation Golf Classic and An Evening Under the Stars at FireRock Country Club. The fund-raiser brought in $350,000. Professional golfers Tom Lehman and Duffy Waldorf played, along with 135 others.
Next year the group will host a similar event called the “Kenzie Kup.” To date, the foundation has raised more than $400,000.
Though one dream is being carried out, Denise says she will has another. She’d like to put a toy corner in the oncology wing of an Arizona hospital and call it “Kenzie’s Korner.”
So far, she hasn’t gotten any responses or cost estimates. She would also like to expand the Kenzie Kase project statewide someday, but for now, Denise says it’s better to take things slowly.
The Monks family is still grieving the loss of their daughter, a little girl who had a love for dance and was always smiling.
She was the fifth member of the family, the “tie-breaker” when it came to deciding where to go out for dinner. But her legacy will lives on each time the foundation has an event, and pink balloons are released in her honor and when a Kenzie Kase is given to a child.