Kathy Leeds has spent a large part of her life working to help others and, Saturday at the Eagles Club, the community has a chance to give back to her to help raise funds for her recent medical expenses.
Kathy was director for 20 years of Quality Life Concepts, an organization which worked to help people with disabilities emphasizing assistance for the very young, from birth to 3 years old.
She has been active with Special Olympics and in her church, teaching Sunday school off and on for many years, said her longtime friend Penny Bergren. She was the founder of Hi-Line Therapeutic Riding Association, which coordinated volunteers to provide children with disabilities access to equine riding therapy, and she continued to provide access to this therapy personally after HILTRA was no longer in operation, added Bergren.
Kathy retired from QLC and cut back on almost all of her other activities after being diagnosed in November with and receiving several weeks’ treatment for stage 4 cancer, said Bergren, adding that in order to find and diagnose the cancer, doctors had to perform open-heart surgery. She then underwent nine weeks of chemotherapy.
Kathy, whose husband, Jim Leeds, died in February, has stayed with Bergren quite a lot in the past months, said Bergren, adding that, despite her great hardships of late, Kathy is an inspiration.
“Whatever is going on, she just has the grace to handle it like a lady,” Bergren said.
“She is a very kind and compassionate woman,” she added. “… She does remarkably well, in my opinion, as a whole because she’s just such a positive person, and she has the deepest faith you’ve probably ever seen in a human being. She just has a lot of love in her. It shines through all the time. Physically, yes, it’s tough. She’s going through some really tough times, but emotionally and mentally she just does remarkably well.”
Karen Thomas, a friend and colleague of Kathy’s, has spearheaded organization of the fundraiser. She said that more than 30 items have been donated for the live auction and 40 items will be in the silent auction.
“It’s heartwarming how the community has reached out,” said Bergren.
Among the donated items are a half of beef, 90 pounds of lamb meat, a Ruger 1022, a football autographed by Marc Mariani, an entertainment center and a movie theater package. Along with the auctions, the event will include a 50/50 drawing and a sloppy joe dinner costing a free-will donation.
Any funds raised will be used for medical and medical-related expenses as Kathy pursues alternative treatment for the cancer and the pain.
“The cancer is so close to her heart it’s inoperable, and it’s very painful,” said Thomas.
Kathy recently traveled to North Dakota to see her son and is staying with her daughter in Glasgow, but she is planning on being at the fundraiser, as is her family, said Thomas.
The doors for the event open at 5 p.m. at the Eagles Club in Havre and dinner will be served starting at 5:30. The silent auction will go on all evening, but the live auction will begin shortly after dinner starts.
“I just want to personally thank everyone in the community that has rallied around Kathy and been supportive in so many ways, the cards, the donations, the phone calls, the prayers — it’s just been amazing,” said Bergren. “I know that she is personally very, very grateful for all the sympathy and help that she has received.”