Mark Klausmeyer died on April 29, 2014, after a two-year battle with fibrosarcoma cancer.
However, three years and nearly $100,000 in donations later, the Clearwater native is still having an effect on the community.
Cause for Klaus is a local organization that supports two area families each year who have a loved one battling cancer.
Chris Klausmeyer, Mark’s brother, started the organization to raise money to help Mark with his expenses.
“It’s one thing to have cancer. It’s another thing to sit by and helplessly watch somebody go through cancer, and you can’t actually do anything for them,” Klausmeyer said. “So I decided to throw some benefits for him.”
When Chris Klausmeyer presented the money he’d raised to his brother, he said Mark wanted to give it to someone who needed it more.
“That’s just the way my brother was,” he said. “So (Mark) said, ‘Well, then, we should do this for more people.’ ”
After Mark died, Chris said, he decided to do just that.
Each year, Cause for Klaus hosts a fundraiser with the goal of raising at least $15,000 for each recipient. The organization has helped eight families since its start in 2014, including this year’s recipients, Dorothy Landrum and Lanora Franck.
The benefit will be 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday at Gene Francis & Associates, 12140 W. K-42. It includes a biscuit and gravy breakfast, a bloody Mary bar, a poker run, a skeet shoot, a barbecue dinner, an auction and more.
It is open to the public, and Klausmeyer said people can attend the entire benefit or just specific events.
Klausmeyer said candidates for the funds raised are usually found through word of mouth. About eight people were considered for the 2017 benefit, he said, but after interviewing family, friends and potential honorees, Landrum and Franck were selected.
“I just weed it down to who needs it the most,” he said. “It’s not about how bad the cancer is, because we’re not going to cure it. It’s just a matter of if they’re financially struggling, like my brother was.”
This year’s recipients are both battling their second round of cancer after experiencing remission.
Landrum, a single mother of four children, was first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2005. She underwent several surgeries, chemotherapy and medication treatments prior to her remission.
Landrum’s breast cancer came back in November. She completed more chemotherapy and is currently undergoing radiation treatments.
Franck was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2015 but went into remission after surgery and treatment. However, within six months, a scan revealed the cancer had returned.
Franck, a mother of four and grandmother of two, was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where she had two surgeries. Her tumor was removed, but she permanently lost feeling in her left foot.
Both women have a background in education. Landrum worked at Goddard’s Explorer Elementary and Apollo Elementary schools in various roles, and Franck served on the Wichita school board for 12 years before becoming a juvenile justice liaison for the county.
Franck said she’s most comfortable serving the community. That’s why it’s been a challenge to have the role reversed, she said.
“I’m just overwhelmed by the kindness complete strangers want to give,” Franck said. “It’s humbling.”
Klausmeyer said he and the other 20 to 30 Cause for Klaus members and volunteers are expecting a turnout of about 500 people.
If community support continues, Klausmeyer said, he will hold the benefits as long as he can.
“I would actually like to add a third person or maybe even a fourth some year,” he said.
For Klausmeyer, the organization has been a way to honor his brother.
“It reminds me of him and it keeps him close to me,” he said. “This was his idea, and I’m just kind of following through with it. I always tell his story before the whole benefit, so everybody gets to know who he was and what he was about. And this is the kind of person he was, always helping everybody else.”