In January of 2017, the kite community lost a great ambassador. Rich Comras was well known to many in the kite community for his passion and love of all aspects of kite flying. He knew that it didn't matter what was going on in your life, if you had just a few minutes to fly a kite, your world would be changed for the better. That change would last and stay with you for the rest of your life. In November of 2014, Rich was diagnosed with cancer. He didn't let his diagnosis rule his life, instead he spent countless hours flying his kite and delighting all of those around him. One is hard pressed to find a fellow kite flier in the United States that had not either flown with him, or heard of his kite flying antics.
It is in his honor that we have created this memorial fund. Kites have brought so much joy into Rich's life, that it seems fitting that we continue to share that joy with those that are hit the hardest by cancer: kids.
Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. It is a disease that affects children of every social, economic, and ethnic group, and remains the number one cause of death by disease in children. Despite major advances in cancer research, there are still 40,000 children undergoing treatment every year. Whether we like it or not, kids do get cancer. We might not be able to take their cancer away but we can be there through their journey.
Cancer treatment, while necessary, causes anxiety and frustration in kids. Studies have shown that art and creative expression often improve the well being of cancer patients. Engaging them in drawing, painting, and movements that allow them to express themselves is an effective method in helping them deal with pain and other symptoms of illness and treatment.
With the funds raised, kids will be able to experience the joy of kite flying. Kites will be provided to those kids that are battling cancer and their families through workshops, demonstrations, and partnerships with facilities that are focused on Childhood Cancer.
Initially the program will include giving free kites to kids, and a more comprehensive program that brings demonstrations by experienced indoor kite fliers and kite builders directly to those children. Any indoor kite flier can tell you, there is no where you can't fly. You can fly a kite in almost any room, you can fly while sitting in a chair, you can fly a kite from bed!
Through partnerships with commerical kite builders, we will be able to acquire -at a significant discount- finished and ready to build kites that will be given away for free. Children will be able to experience the joys of kite flying no matter if they are on the beach, or confined to a treatment facility. Some kites will allow the child to express themselves artistically as they color and build their kite before flying it.
With time the program will grow to help support cancer fundraisers by providing kites as another vehicle for reaching more people. Through the support of the Rich Comras Memorial Fund, and the members of the American Kitefliers Association, those that are wishing to create events that will raise money to kick pediatric cancer to the curb, will have another means of being able to do so. Whether it is through hosting kite building workshops, flash mobs, kite-athalons, or so much more!
Frequently Asked Quesions
Q: Who will this serve?
A: This will serve kids that are diagnosed with cancer, and their families across the United States.
Q: How will you choose the kite fliers? Are they paid?
A: The kite fliers chosen to fly in these spaces will be vetted and proven indoor performers. They will have either proven themselves in the competition circuit or via other public means. Safety is a high priority, and at no point would we want to introduce an element of risk to the situation. Kite fliers will not be paid, they are all volunteers, however they may recieve special recognition on the American Kitefliers Association website (kite.org).
Q: Indoor kites? I don't get it, do you need fans?
A: Indoor kites are just like the kites you fly outdoors, but they are lighter and sometimes smaller. They also come in all different types, from ones that can perform acrobatics and tricks to glider kites that fly like paper airplanes.
Q: Do you fund cancer research?
A: We do not directly fund pediatric cancer research projects. Our focus is on providing support and services to children and families currently facing pediatric cancer in hopes of improving their well-being during treatment and throughout their cancer story. We do hope to in the future provide means of fundraising that would go towards cancer research.
Q: Why fundraise for providing this at cancer centers, hospitals, or post-treatment facilities?
A: This is where children with cancer and their families spend the most of their time. While the procedures may be short, the time spent in these facilities post-treatment or during the recovery process is often long. This is where kites can make the biggest impact. Child Life Services at hospitals (which include art therapy and music) recieve limited funding. As an independent fund we can create the program at no cost to the facility, while helping to fill the gap.
Q: Are there any restrictions on donations? Do I have to live in the United States in order to donate?
A: Anyone can donate.
Q: How can I stay up to date on what is going on with the kites?
A: The American Kitefliers Association will be creating a webpage that will have the most current information. Likewise, updates will be published via their routine newsletters, on Facebook, and in the quarterly magazine. If you are not a member of the American Kitefliers Association, you will still be able to find updates on the website or by contacting the organization directly. This website is currently being built, so look back shortly for an update as to when it is active.
Q: I think my local Hospital would love to have this, how do I make it happen?
A: If you know of a place that this would be perfect for, please contact the American Kitefliers Association and put in the Subject line: Rich Comras Memorial Fund. They will be able to set something up. Please allow for 5-7 days for a response.
Q: I have a child with cancer, is my family eligible?
A: YES!! One kid, five kids, one hundred kids. All are welcome. Please contact the American Kitefliers Association and put in the Subject line: Rich Comras Memorial Fund. They will be able to set something up. Please allow for 5-7 days for a response.
Q: I made a donation, how else can I help?
A: Spread the word! Share this website with your friends. Share your story, share why you think this is important. If you are a kite flier and would like to be involved, let us know. If you can think of something else that you think would help, let us know!
For more on Cancer in Children go to: www.cancer.gov/types/childhood-cancers
To learn more about the American Kitefliers Association go to: www.kite.org