History, Mission, and Fundraising efforts:
Janet Vargas Memorial Children’s Cancer Fund (JVMF) was
1977 at a meeting of the 1st
Sergeants of the New Mexico Air National Guard (NMANG). The JVMF evolved
from a single act of kindness.
early 1977 the NMANG was made aware that a member of the NMANG Frank
Vargas’s child Janet was in serious trouble stricken with cancer at an
early age. When it was
learned that Janet would not survive her cancer, members of the NMANG
raised money to make her wish to go Disneyland come true.
Janet died shortly after the adventure of her short lifetime. On September 24, 1977, Dr. T. John Gribble, the director of
the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) Pediatric Hematology/Oncology
Program wrote a letter to the NMANG asking if the guard would be
interested in supporting some of the programs at the cancer clinic. In typical fashion the NMANG needed little time to respond
and one week later formed the Janet Vargas Memorial Children’s Cancer
Fund. In less than two months
the NMANG raised enough money to purchase Christmas presents for 63
patients undergoing cancer treatments at UNMH.
Two primary fundraising efforts were crucial in the early evolution of
the JVMF and the ability of the JVMF to expand and add programs through
over 25 years of existence, the annual JVMF charity golf tournament and
the Combined Federal Campaign / United Way fund drive. In 2002, the Boo
Ball added a significant financial assist to the JVMF. These fundraising
events and significant donations from individuals fund the three annual
events, the purchase of Christmas gifts for the cancer patients and many
other projects that benefit the UNMH Pediatric Oncology Program and the
Ronald McDonald House.
The mission and goal of the JVMF is to turn our
money into fun and excitement for the sick children and their families.
We achieve this by sponsoring three events, outings to Cliff’s Amusement
Park, Hinkle’s Family Fun Center and the annual Christmas party at Peter
Piper Pizza. These events have a common theme. They are held at
locations that are fun for kids and family members of all ages. The
families are treated to food and beverages provided by the JVMF and
served by charity volunteers or NMANG food services personnel. Cancer
clinic nurses, social workers and doctors are invited to the events.
These events give families an opportunity to interact with medical
personnel in an informal more casual atmosphere. These events also allow
family members to interact with each other outside the clinic and build
friendships with others struggling as they are to deal with a seriously
ill child. The friendships formed at these events and the information
shared by the families is often invaluable to help get them through the
New Mexico Air National Guard and the Janet Vargas Memorial Children’s
Cancer Fund are proud that when the Cancer Clinic or the Ronald McDonald
House seek our support we respond immediately and make it our goal to see
that they get what they need. If
we can’t find a donor we will raise the money to make sure needs do not
go unfulfilled. It is our
mission to help sick kids and their families.
The Ronald McDonald House and the University of New Mexico
Pediatric Oncology Program are two extraordinary organizations that
provide a tremendous service to sick children and their families and the
community and we are tremendously proud to help them accomplish their