By Bill Snyder
The Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance or ESCA is a grassroots program who offers assistance free of charge to people battling cancer in Inyo and Mono counties.
Their biggest fundraiser of the year is their 5k run/walk and the 18th Annual Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance 5K Run/Walk was held the morning of October 20th at the Bishop City Park. About 200 walkers and runners came out to honor their friends and family who have survived cancer, and in memory of those who have succumbed.
There were participants of all ages running and walking as well as many vendors and generous local sponsors. Many sponsors donated baskets which were raffled off to help raise additional money. The total funds raised at the 5K were approximately $25,000.
In addition, the 1978 Bishop Union High School class reunion was held recently. At that 40th reunion celebration, $500 was raised just by putting out a donation jar. One unnamed participant matched the $500 and challenged others to do the same. Thus far, a total of $1,300 have been raised by the Bishop class of ‘78.
The Eastern Sierra Cancer Alliance or ESCA, is a 100% volunteer board of nine dedicated professionals. All our funds come from fundraising events or donations from the local community. Donations are always welcome, as well as volunteers. ESCA is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and all donations are tax deductible.
The ESCA was brought about after Patricia Ramirez, a Registered Nurse from Bishop, returned home from an Avon 3-day event. Inspired and motivated, she was determined to help make a local difference for our community members battling cancer with resource information about their disease and to help them with financial aid, if necessary.
In 2001, ESCA held its first annual 5k walk / 10k fun run, raising funds to help those in Inyo and Mono County with cancer. Over the years, the 10k run has given way to a 5k fun run, but the enthusiasm remains.
ESCA is dedicated to helping Inyo and Mono County residents dealing with any kind of cancer. They partner with Northern Inyo Healthcare District to reach those in need and to provide all manner of assistance. They provide information about resources available, as well as financial assistance for expenses such as medication and tests, travel, clothing, breast prosthesis & bras, mammogram screening, groceries, utility bills, child care, and more.
In addition, the ESCA have a Resource Center located at NIH’s Birch Street Annex in west Bishop where patients may come for assistance with finding out about the resources available, making contact with the American Cancer Society, filling out forms, and are provided with emotional support. They also have a selection of wigs, head-scarves, and mastectomy bras available for no charge.
Once a month, all are welcome to their Cancer Conversations support group meeting for patients and caregivers.
More than 350 individuals from Inyo and Mono Counties have been helped in ESCA’s 18 years of existence. Many with cancer choose not to ask for our financial assistance, deferring to others in more need.
Each month ESCA receives from 17 to 22 applications for help. This number has about doubled from ten years ago, when the number of requests varied from 5 to 12 in any particular month. Since 2010, ESCA has given out $259,000 to Inyo and Mono residents fighting cancer. Each year the figure is higher. The projected assistance given to locals this year is expected to hit $48,000.
All money raised goes directly to those in need. No one at ESCA receives a salary or paycheck since they are truly 100% all volunteer. All money raised goes to Inyo and Mono county residents.
ESCA relies on generous donations from local businesses, organizations, and community members. If you need ESCA’s help or would like to volunteer, call them at 760 872-3811.
If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, just make your check out to ESCA and mail it to:
PO BOX 1523
Bishop, CA 93515