By Mike Ramczyk

Correspondent

For more than 15 years, the Kade’s Klassic fundraiser has helped people going through a struggle and needing financial assistance as a result of a personal tragedy.

It started with Whitewater’s Kade Vance, now 23, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2005 as a result of a car accident near Janesville.

His benefit was that year, and every year since the event has supported a different family.

Vance’s story has a happy ending. He is now in his third year at Shepherd’s College in Union Grove and works at Pick n’ Save in Mukwonago.

This Sunday, June 27, the 16th annual Kade’s Klassic will take place at Evergreen Golf Course in Elkhorn. It will feature a 5K walk/run at 7 a.m., golfing, lunch, a live auction and raffles (open to the public at 1:30 p.m. and closing at 2:30 p.m.).

The 9-hole golfing is full but as of earlier this week, there was some availability remaining for the 18-hole event. Those interested in signing up to golf are advised it’s best to call the family directly at 414-791-4600. For more general information about Kade’s Klassic, or to sign up for the 5K, visit kadesklassic.com.

Recipient is a fighter

Much like past Kade’s Klassic beneficiaries, where people were fighting cancer and other challenging diseases, this year’s recipient has been through a whirlwind of emotions as a result of health issues.

Kim Gonzales was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer in November 2019. She’s an Elkhorn native who works for the Lake Geneva Post Office.

In the early stages of her diagnosis, she said, she underwent extensive medical procedures to keep the cancer localized to the area where the tumor was initially found.

She endured 12 weeks of chemotherapy, and in May 2020, had a double mastectomy. However, her procedure led to a complication – an arterial bleed post-surgery – which she survived. But it led to double the recovery time.

Following her surgery, Gonzales later completed extensive radiation treatments during the summer of 2020. In September of that year, she was told she’s cancer free.

Gonzales said her three daughters filled out an application for Kade’s Klassic and she was shocked that Kade’s mom, Jill Donnelly, who also works for the post office, called and asked if she’d be the 2020 recipient.

That event was canceled due to COVID-19 but rescheduled for this Sunday.

Shocked at diagnosis

Gonzales recently talked about her cancer journey. She said it was shocking to find out she had cancer.

“I went in for a routine mammogram on Nov 12, 2019. I was taken in for an ultrasound on my left breast. After noticing the quietness in the room, the doctor put her hand on my leg and said, ‘On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest for cancer, I’m giving you a 5.’ Even though I was lying down, I thought I was going to faint,” Gonzales said.

“The fear that went through my body was numbing. My minded raced to my three daughters. I can’t leave them yet,” she added.

Gonzales found out she had cancer after a few biopsies. One of her rounds of chemotherapy was called “red devil,” perhaps the most invasive and poisonous of chemo drugs. Later, she endured radiation for six weeks, five times a week, which she said was the hardest on her body.

“You just can’t prepare yourself hearing you have cancer. I try and be positive, but it’s always in the back of my mind, the what if’s. Going for check-ups are very hard. To say I am anxious is an understatement. Trying to move on from all that is very difficult, because nothing is the same. Your life up until that moment is gone,” Gonzales said.

She said moving past having cancer has been challenging.

“You mourn the past. Trying to move on has been my biggest challenge. I tell people all the time, enjoy life. You’re healthy. I know I enjoy the small stuff a lot more. I take time to look around and listen. I just had my first grandchild in May. I’m so blessed to be here and enjoy him. He is what life is all about,” Gonzales said.

Strong and grateful

Gonzales, now a year out from the end of her treatment, says she feels strong.

Though she experienced neuropathy and muscle cramping at times, she said walking and delivering mail keeps her in good shape.

Gonzales said with the help of donations from Kade’s Klassic, they will be able to make a dent toward her outstanding medical bills.

To give one example of the costs, three rounds of radiation alone was $38,000.

“I’m very grateful, to say the least,” Gonzales said.

“My mother-in-law, Karen, drove me to every appointment. Even to radiation, five times a week for six weeks. My mom, Judy Schlimmer, made meals and lots of emotional support,” she said.

Gonzales said she knows her journey with cancer was difficult for her three daughters but they stepped up and were very supportive.

“When I came home from surgery, they helped drain my drains, which is not for the weak at all. They helped me get around the house. Losing all that blood made me very weak,” she said.

Her husband, Jason, she said, is an amazing cook who made many delicious meals with good food to help build up her hemoglobin and get her strength back. He’s an over-the-road truck driver who is gone for a week or two at a time, so others also helped out.

“Our amazing neighbors who mowed our lawn… Friends and family who sent flowers, made meals, text messages, phone calls, the list goes on. I had one friend who sent an inspirational card every week for a year. Beyond blessed and grateful,” Gonzales said.

She said she is looking forward to seeing her girls – Aren, Alex and Addy – this weekend. One lives in Missouri and another is traveling from Hawaii. Gonzales said she can’t wait to enjoy her family and friends and thank everyone for their support.

Much like the emotions associated with the shock of cancer, she also knows it will be overwhelming.

“I can’t put into words how thankful and grateful my family and I are for the help from the Kade’s Klassic benefit. Especially all the people who have taken the time to come out and donate gifts for the auctions and spend money to golf or do the run/walk,” Gonzales said.

“I get very emotional thinking about it.”

 
 

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