By: Carol Beck-Round | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: August 2014
In the midst of his own cancer battle, retired Tulsa firefighter Mark Meyer launched the non-profit Hydrants of Hope to benefit children who are fighting cancer. Meyer displays a Hydrants for Hope pin, one of several items he sells to help raise money for the charity he founded.
When the elevator doors opened at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, Mark Meyer came face to face with a small child. She was bald. A cotton ball was taped to the inside of her arm.
The now retired Tulsa firefighter, who’d just received his own cancer diagnosis, said, “It’s not fair. The children battling cancer should have been out playing ball or participating in a dance recital. Instead, they were sick and spending time in the hospital undergoing chemo and other treatments.”
Later, as Mark encountered more children fighting cancer, he had a revelation. “I’d had a good childhood. I’d had a good long life and I wanted to find a way to help the youngsters, but I wasn’t sure how.”
Back in Tulsa, he asked hospital personnel what the cancer patients and their families needed. “I learned many of the families were struggling to pay for gasoline to get back and forth to the hospital or to pay other bills because they were spending money for prescriptions. It didn’t seem right that these families couldn’t even put gas in their car.”
While trying to figure out how he could help, Mark was playing with a custom-made piece of jewelry around his neck one day. On the gold chain is a fire hydrant, symbolic of his chosen profession. Out of that desire to help others, “Hydrants of Hope” was born.
With the support of others, including fellow firefighters, the non-profit charity has raised $38,000 so far, with all money going directly to families with children battling cancer. From the sale of T-shirts, lapel pins, key chains, wrist bands and jelly bracelets through www.hydrantsofhope.com, Mark gladly donates every penny to the cause.
Mark’s own cancer story began in March of 2012, when he went for his yearly annual. A lump in his abdomen turned out to be a 32-pound tumor. His journey to healing led him from Tulsa to Houston, and eventually New York, where a surgeon removed the Stage 4 sarcoma. However, it had metastasized, so he’s still in the battle. Two trips to Germany for more surgery and recent treatments at a Cyberknife cancer center in Tulsa haven’t diminished Mark’s enthusiasm for living and for helping children.
On September 16, he is hosting a golf tournament at Heritage Hills in Claremore, with all proceeds going to Hydrants of Hope. “My goal,” he says, “is to raise $50,000.”
To meet that goal, Mark is seeking 92 people, which is the club limit, to pay a $100 entry fee to participate in the day’s fun. “The sooner you register, the better,” he adds. “The slots are filling up fast.” The cut-off date for registration is September 1, and each participant will receive a free tournament T-shirt and lunch afterward.
To liven up the tournament, there will be prizes and an opportunity to win a percentage of the money pot in a poker tourney. “The golfer with the best five-card hand will win,” says Mark. “We want to get more people excited about the tournament and help the charity.”
Sponsors are also needed. Businesses can sponsor a tee box or a hole box for $100. In return, their company logo will appear on a posted sign at a designated box. For $250, a business receives both a tee box and a hole box advertisement and will be included on the promotional banner and other materials. For a $500 donation, a business receives the above as well as being included on the back of the tourney T-shirts. All donations are tax-deductible. Sponsor deadline is September 1.
“I’m going to kick cancer’s butt,” says Mark, “but I want to do it while helping others.”
For more information, contact
After 30 years in public school education, Carol Round retired and moved from Grand Lake to Claremore, Oklahoma in 2005, where she writes a weekly faith-based column which runs in 14 Oklahoma newspapers as well as several national and international publications. Three volumes of her columns have been compiled into collections: A Matter of Faith, Faith Matters and by FAITH alone. She has also written Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God and a companion workbook, The 40-Day Challenge. This past year she has written three children’s books, a series called Nana’s 3 Jars, to teach children about the value of giving, saving and spending money. All of Carol’s books are available through Amazon. In addition to writing her weekly column, authoring books and speaking to women’s groups, she writes for Value News. She also blogs regularly at www.carolaround.com. When she is not writing or speaking, she loves spending time with her three grandchildren, working in her flowerbeds, shooting photos, volunteering at her church or going on mission trips overseas, and hiking. She is also an avid reader and loves working crosswords and trying to solve Sudoku puzzles.