Family-run nonprofit helps cancer patients pay medical bills

The Jimmy Crabtree Cancer Fund honors loss of family member

By Paul Giorgio - Producer

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. - A family-run nonprofit that helps residents in the West Orange County area pay medical bills associated with cancer treatment is being honored for its impact on the community. 

The Jimmy Crabtree Cancer Fund was established in 2011 and since then, the foundation has given away more than $250,000 to 55 families. 

Andy Crabtree, the president of JCCF, said his brother was diagnosed with liver cancer and struggled financially when treatments changed and deductibles were due.

"We wanted to help because we saw what Jimmy went through," Andy Crabtree said. "It's a lot to think about on top of just trying to be healthy and get better." 

Jimmy Crabtree died after an eight-month battle with the disease. a photo of him that was used for the JCCF logo shows him smiling wide with his signature goatee.

"This photo is how I remember him," Andy Crabtree said.

Andy Crabtree said his family has always been civic-minded and felt compelled to turn the loss of their brother and son into a foundation that could help others. They remembered friends raising money to help Jimmy Crabtree and decided to use that as inspiration to pay it forward. 

"We said, 'Yes, we can do this,'" Andy Crabtree recounted. "We knew that we could help that way. We're not doctors, we can't make it go away but we can help them with their deductible. That's when we started fundraising."

The family organizes four fundraising events a year, including golf and fishing tournaments as well as a family bowling event. These are all activities that Jimmy Crabtree enjoyed.

Kim Johnston is among the families who've benefited from the foundation. Her husband is battling melanoma and they struggled to meet a deductible due at the beginning of the year

"Financially, it will break you, cancer will break you," Johnston said. "The Crabtrees have helped us in so many ways to maintain our life." 

Jerry Johnston said he's found strength knowing the community is with him.

"It's very emotional. Cancer is personal, it's emotional for my family," he said. "When they reached out to us and wanted to help, they just give so much to everybody, it lifts you up, it gives you a little bit of extra strength." 

JCCF concentrates its efforts exclusively on families living in the West Orange County and Clermont area. Crabtree said most of the donations come from the West Orange community and this is a way for neighbors to help neighbors. 

The JCCF was nominated for a Getting Results Award by Winter Garden resident, Elizabeth Mckinney.   

The next fundraising event is the eighth annual JCCF Family Fun Bowl, on Aug. 18. Donations can also be made through the foundation's website. 

Current patients of Advent Health and Orlando Health may contact the following for consideration:

Advent Health Cancer Institute Outpatient Oncology Social Work at 407-303-2055
Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center at 321-841-1869

If you'd like to nominate someone for a Getting Results Award, click here.

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