Captain Annie's Survivor chest is a non-profit foundation recently created by Kevin Hoerauf, Margaret LeClere and Tim Boychuck and born from a symbiotic goal dedicated to providing help and support to cancer patients and their families who are struggling throughout the Mid-Michigan area as they are going through cancer treatment; while also honoring the memories of two special people who lost their own battles with cancer in 2015: Kirk ‘The Captain’ LeClere and Annie Hoerauf.
By forming this foundation, their spouses and close friends decided to make something positive out of these dual heartbreaking losses; and hope to help others fighting cancer by lightening the load they have to face during a difficult time.
“Dealing with a loved one facing the challenges of cancer is difficult enough,” explains Boychuck, “so we hope to assist with a small part of that burden by defraying a portion of the related expenses.”
In addition to formulating events designed to raise funds that will go directly to cancer patients and their families to help defer ancillary expenses not normally thought of when people think of cancer treatments, eventually the foundation hopes to have a self-perpetuating trust fund that will continue to further assistance to cancer patients and their families for many years to come.
For those unfamiliar with each of these amazing individuals, Kirk LeClere was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was valedictorian of his high school class in 1978, and moved to Midland in the mid-80s, where he worked for CM Systems as their controller. He stayed with them until 1999 when he met Fritz Horak on an airplane and ended up as CFO & Vice President of The F.P. Horak Company in Bay City. He Married Margaret and became a father to two daughters, Katie & Annie; and throughout this time music was a very important part of Kirk’s life.
Kirk partnered up with Tim Boychuck in 1993 and formed the musical & creative core of many local bands, most notably with The Timothy Hyde Project, where he was instrumental in assisting Boychuck develop his landmark original rock-opera Heal, which was performed live at The Midland Center for the Arts. He fought a hard battle of radiation-induced osteosarcoma and according to his wife, never gave up during his 7-month fight and always stayed positive when others were afraid.
“He was always the rock of our family and held us together when the worst was happening,” reflects Margaret. “We spent many days and weeks on the road to Ann Arbor and Houston and want to help others doing the same. He would be very proud to have his name alongside Annie Hoerauf’s and be a part of giving back to those fighting the cancer battle.”
Annie Hoerauf was born in 1947 and grew up in Midland, graduating from Midland High School in 1975. She was a hard worker and valued employee at Midland Country Club and later at Plymouth Elementary, where she worked for the Midland Public Schools for well over a decade. She married Kevin in 1987 and, together, they raised two daughters, Jennifer and Sara. She was also a loving and doting grandmother to two granddaughters, Hannah and Chloe. Ann loved working with children, mentoring them and helping them achieve their personal best.
She was an avid card maker, reader, and loyal friend to many. Her most important role, though, was her role as Mom and Grandma. She loved nothing more than spending time with her family, taking trips to Lake Huron or Lake Michigan together, and spoiling her granddaughters.
According to Kevin, the origins of Captain Annie’s Survivor Chest started back in late January of this year. “I’ve known Tim for nearly 30 years now and he suggested this idea as a way of honoring two people very special to him in order to keep their memory alive. I thought this was a great idea and we engaged Margaret and our children to help develop a vision of where we wanted to go with this project. In March we sat down and worked on a leadership team and built a mission statement concerning what we intend to do and what we want to stand for.”
“We didn’t want the funds to go to cancer research, but instead direct them towards easing the financial burden for people having to travel back and forth to Ann Arbor, for example, to help them with the expenses of gas and hotel rooms; or even help people who could benefit from having someone drive them down there.”
“Our goal is to first obtain a 501c3 so we can become our own entity,” explains Tim, “but right now our non-profit is closely related to the Cancer Services of Midland, where 100% of the funds donated to Captain Annie’s Survivor Chest will go this organization who will distributed the funds in alignment with our mission statement. Our goal is to raise $25,000-$30,000 by September 10th and then we can commence a trust fund that will become self-perpetuating.
“We’ll be dealing with individuals on a case-by-case basis,” adds Margaret, “and have a treasure chest box down at Cancer Services of Midland where people can submit applications. Some families may need help paying a Consumers Energy bill and we’re trying to focus not only on the person going through treatment, but the caregiver in the family who has to give hours up at their job and doesn’t know how they will pay their next Consumer’s bill, and those kinds of issues.”
Thus far Captain Annie’s Treasure Chest has staged a kick-off event on June 4th that raised about $1,000; and their next event is a Golf Outing at Currie Golf Course in Midland on Saturday, September 10th. There will be a 9:00 AM Shotgun Start at the cost is only $75.00 per person which includes greens fees, 18 holes, cart, lunch and prizes. People can sign up for the golf outing by going to the website at Captainanniesurvivorchest.com and if you can’t play but would like to help with volunteering, you can contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call Tim Boychuck at 988-832-2665 for more info. Hole Sponsorships for businesses are only $100 each. “FP Horak is also helping us with donation and printing signs for our hole sponsorships,” notes Tim.
Later in the year, Captain Annie’s Survivor Chest will hold a Pasta Palloozza on Friday, December 2nd from 5 pm – midnight at the Midland Moose Club on Bay City Road in Midland. Spaghetti dinner will be served between 5-7 pm with 50/50 drawings held throughout the evening and entertainment provided by Dave Kellan & Gutbucket at 7 pm. Tickets will go on sale around mid-October and will be $30 per person or $50 per couple.
“We wanted to get this project off the ground and get our kids involved,” notes Kevin, “and we meet once or twice a month and are open to suggestions and comments on how we can improve our mission and do better. One of the nice things I’ve noticed since starting this is that a lot of people need help and a lot of people are willing to help. Everybody is just one diagnosis away from bankruptcy and out of pocket expenses during a serious illness such as cancer can be astronomical.”
“Both Kirk and Annie were very near and dear to us and are connected to us still,” reflects Tim. “Our logo for Captain Annie’s Survivor Chest tells the story because the guitar is a symbol for the Fender Telecaster that Kirk owned and loved to play and that his wife bought for him. The purple is Annie’s favorite color and the sunflower radiates their personalities very well and how extremely courageous and bright and strong they were throughout this whole ordeal. I never heard anything negative from either of them. Annie was always as bright as that flower in the logo and Kirk played and sang until the day he died.”
“They were both always willing to help other people,” concludes Kevin. “My wife was involved with the public schools for a number of years and started as a para-professional working in the office. The teachers didn’t like to watch kids on the playground and many thought that beneath them, but Annie enjoyed it and thought it the best part of her day. In lieu of flowers at her funeral we took up a donation and worked with the Midland School District and put a ‘Buddy Bench’ on the playground filed, so if someone is being bullied, or doesn’t feel they have a friend, they can sit there and be comforted. Kindness and consideration are important, especially in this crazy world today – and I see this quality in our daughters’ as well.”
People interested in volunteering or making donations to Captain Annie’s Survivor Chest can go to their website at www.captainanniesurvivorchest.com and can send a tax deductible check payable to Midland Cancer Services (with remarks CASC on the lower left of the check) to CASC and send to PO Box 2517, Midland, MI 48641-2517.