Zaching Against CancerNov 28, 2021 05:39PM ● By Anika Mills
Often times, tragedy and loss brings along with it drive and purpose. The Zaching Against Cancer Foundation (ZACF) is definitely an example of that. Columbia Inspired Magazine (CIM) talked with Felicia Fleming, the executive director of ZACF, to learn more about how the organization’s founder, Zachary Lederer discovered the path that led him to serving others, and how his legacy lives on.
CIM: We are so excited to talk to you about this today and shed a light on such a wonderful organization. How did the Zaching Against Cancer Foundation get its start?
Fleming: Zachary Lederer started the foundation in 2013 when facing brain cancer for the second time in his life. He recognized that so many cancer patients did not have the emotional and financial support that he had and wanted to do his part to help. Zachary passed away at the age of 20 in 2014 before ZACF’s first event.
CIM: How did you become involved with the organization?
Fleming: I became involved as a volunteer when Zachary asked me to join the Board of Directors and help plan his first golf outing. I am a very close friend of the Lederer family, so my involvement is personal as well as professional.
CIM: Many organizations have a very specific population they help, so who does ZACF serve?
Fleming: We seek to alleviate stress in the lives of cancer patients and caregivers through direct patient support and programs, scholarships and grants. Each year we serve thousands of people of ALL ages fighting cancer of ALL types. While our daily efforts are focused in Maryland we also assist patients and caregivers in other states. We currently have 25 partner hospitals in Maryland, one in Massachusetts and one in Florida, and we accept direct requests to our office.
CIM: That is awesome that so many families are able to receive your help. In reference to that, what programs or services do you provide?
Fleming: Through our Little Things for Cancer program we provide critical support, financial aid and more. Some examples of these services are:
· Travel assistance to and from cancer treatment (including ride services, gasoline, hotel stays and parking)
· Prescription payment assistance
· Health insurance co-payments
· Medical, dental, and utility bills
· Rent and mortgage assistance
· Meals and grocery assistance·
· Assistance with house cleaning and child care services
· Gift cards for services
CIM: These last twenty four months have been hard for the world, but especially for nonprofits. Talk about the challenges that inevitably arose when the pandemic hit and how did you navigate as a result?
Fleming: Every dollar we raise funds ZACF programs and resources that directly impact our clients. Due to COVID-19 we were forced to cancel all in person fundraising events and like other non-profits found ourselves in desperate need of, not only day-to-day operational funding, but additional emergency funds to support our most vulnerable clients. We had fewer resources to help our clients who were at a greater need and risk than ever.
For immune compromised patients, especially cancer patients, COVID-19 is a very real health threat and in some cases, a deadly one. Cancer patients and caregivers struggled to do even CDC-approved tasks like go to treatment, the grocery store, etc. The economic impact was even greater because without work or benefits, many of our clients struggled to pay bills, and access critical care or much-needed wrap-around support.
CIM: Thank you so much for talking with us today. Before you go, what do you want our readers to know about ZACF and how can they support you?
Fleming: We rely on the community in so many ways. We love our volunteers and can always use more! It takes many people to help with in person events like our running festival, our golf outing, or to send donations in the form of goods and services. We encourage the community to go to our website, www.zachingagainstcancer.org, to keep up to date on fundraising events and donate directly to ZACF. Find our social media pages, like, share, and subscribe! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin. We welcome any assistance our community has to offer.