SANDPOINT — The community is rallying to assist an Idaho State Police officer battling against a deadly disease.
When Idaho State Police Sgt. Kevin Bennett learned he was suffering from MDS, a form of leukemia, the first step was to start treatments to halt the spread of the disease with chemotherapy while seeking a match on the national bone marrow registry. In the event that a donor is found, insurance will cover Bennett’s marrow transplant operation. However, any expenses related to the search for that donor aren’t covered, and those can add up to huge amounts of money. Fortunately, the community has Bennett’s back.
“The amount of support I’ve received is so overwhelming and humbling,” Bennett said.
Bennett’s fellow law enforcement officers, friends and family are seeking to help him and his family bear the financial burden with a firearms benefit raffle set for Jan. 25.
The stars of the show include a Glock 19 compact 9 mm handgun, a Browning 50th Anniversary Ducks Unlimited A5 12 gauge shotgun and a .357 magnum Comanche revolver.
Raffle tickets cost $5.00 with no limit to the purchasable amount and can be bought by contacting Beth Dunlap of the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office at 263-8417 ext. 3075 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks should be made out to “Team Bennett Donation,”and all tickets should be purchased by Jan. 11.
Winners of the raffle must be legally allowed to own firearms under state and federal law and are also responsible for transfer fees.
In addition, anyone wishing to support the family directly can make a PayPal donation to TeamBennettDonation@gmail.com or transfer funds to the “Team Bennett Donation” account at any Wells Fargo branch.
Any contributions, whether through the raffle or donations, will be much appreciated. According to Bennett, doctors have given him between a year and a year and a half to live unless a match is found on the bone marrow registry.
However, that process can be exceedingly complicated. Bennett said every individual has ten different genetic markers, and in order for a marrow transplant to be accepted by the body, the donor must be an exact or very near match in those markers. That makes finding a suitable match very difficult.
It also contributes to the massive expense of simply locating the proper donor. Once a promising candidate is found, it costs $7,000 just to run him or her through a full test to determine whether or not a full match exists. It’s possible to run through several tests in the search for such an individual.
“We didn’t realize before we got into this that everything moved so slowly,” Bennett said.
Through all the ordeals, the family takes comfort in their faith. According to Bennett, doctors have told him time and time again how amazing it is that he’s not in the hospital, and he attributes that to the spiritual support he’s received.
“We are very strong in our faith, and that has carried us through this,” Bennett said. “I’ve got the sustaining power of God keeping me going.”
In addition to contributing financially, residents can help every individual needing a bone marrow transplant by adding themselves to the national registry. Nonprofit DKMS America mails out simple cheek swabbing kits that individuals can send back to assist the cause. Visit www.deletebloodcancer.org to learn more.