Elsie Brooks Fund Helps Locals with Financial Need During Cancer Treatment

By Ryan Duey

The rodeo that Jean Book has been going to since she was a kid is now helping her, in a round-about way.

When the Abilene resident was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, she received help from the Elsie Brooks Memorial Cancer Fund of Dickinson County.

The fund, created in 1991, provides financial assistance to any Dickinson County resident who is undergoing cancer treatment.

The Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo has partnered with the fund since 2008, through its Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign, asking fans to wear pink for one night of rodeo.

Book, a teacher, retired after 35 years in the profession. She spent most of her career in the Abilene and Chapman schools.

Two years after retiring in 2017, she was diagnosed with colon cancer.

After six months of treatment, including twelve chemotherapy sessions, she was free of cancer for two years.

Then doctors found spots in her lungs in 2022, and she’s been doing chemotherapy treatments since then.

The cancer is slow growing, she has been told, and she will be taking chemo treatments for the rest of her life.

“It wasn’t something on my radar for my retirement, but since it’s here, we deal with it, go about life, and enjoy it.”

The Elsie Brooks Cancer Fund has provided financial help for Book in making the regular trips to the doctor in Manhattan.

Growing up in Dickinson County, Book attended the rodeo as a youngster. Her mom was a 4-H leader, and she and her siblings were involved with the fair and went to the rodeo.

When she married Glenn, they continued that tradition. They used to go to all four nights of rodeo, but now it’s just a couple of shows.

“We wouldn’t miss it,” she said.

She and Glenn have a daughter, Sarah Stalder, and a son, Michael Ade, six granddaughters, and just a few months ago, were blessed with a little great-granddaughter.

Knowing she has cancer is daunting, but Book isn’t discouraged.

“You know who wins the battle in the end,” she said. “Whatever God has planned is just fine.”

She is thankful for the Elsie Brooks Memorial Cancer Fund.

“It’s a gift to the community, to have an organization that can reach out and touch people. They reached out to me, and that meant a lot. I appreciate the fund and its contribution to the county.”

The Abilene rodeo hosts its annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the rodeo on Thursday, August 1, partnering with the Elsie Brooks Fund to raise money through voluntary donations. In the past sixteen years, the rodeo has raised over $45,000 for the fund.

The Elsie Brooks Fund has assisted its clients over 1,700 times since it began.

Rodeo tickets are available online at WildBillHickokRodeo.com, at West’s Country Mart, and other area retailers, and at the gate.

Advance tickets are $12 for adults and $15 at the gate. Children’s tickets are $8 for kids ages 4-10.

For more information, visit the website or the rodeo’s Facebook page.

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