Valley Nonprofit Raises Money and Cheer for Loved Ones Facing Cancer in Stevens County

by Jessica Simpkins, MD

The unincorporated community of Valley, Washington may be small, boasting a population of 122 people, but it sure is mighty. In 2016, six women in Valley sat around a table grieving the loss of a good friend to cancer. “After she’d passed, her husband was still paying medical bills for her treatments. We didn’t think that was right!” Darla Olson recounts.

From that round-table discussion, Darla and five others came together to start Valley Warriors Against Cancer, a non-profit that would raise money to support individuals (and their families) in Stevens County facing cancer. “Before we formed, there was very little help for people in Stevens County facing the cost of cancer treatments. At first, we tried to join an existing nonprofit in Spokane, but they didn’t seem particularly interested. So we said, ‘To heck with it! We’ll start our own!’” Darla laughs.

Valley Warriors Against Cancer

front row Sharon Bodak, Scott Reisse, 2nd row is Vickie Frawley, Jo Nordblad, Jackie Barnard, Darla Olson, Sandi Amundson and Jim Kosse

“First we applied with the secretary of state to become a corporation, then we filed for our 501(c)(3) status, and we raised money to pay for all of that by having a raffle. We now have 30 members, with a core of 12 members who do a whole lot of work! Last year we helped 18 families to the tune of $10,000. This year to date, we have raised $4,500 for Stevens County cancer patients,” Darla continues.

Darla shares that she and all of the members of Valley Warriors Against Cancer have a personal connection to those fighting cancer: “Most of us are either cancer survivors ourselves or have a family member who has been affected by cancer. The truth is that even if you have good insurance, nowadays you’d better have a big bank account to afford gas to travel for treatment, which can sometimes be every day for an entire month! Cancer treatments like chemo can take four, five, or even six hours a day to complete, depending on what type people are receiving. It’s a whole day ordeal! And it’s very expensive.”

Valley Warriors Against Cancer is an entirely volunteer-run organization without any salaried positions. “We try very hard to give the patients we work with as much of the money we raise as possible, and we try to get as much of the things we need for our events donated to cover costs. Nearly every business in the Valley supports us in one way or another. Fired Up Brewing and Pizza and Valley Drop Tine have been incredibly supportive and helpful,” Darla explains.

The largest fundraiser they host every year is a spring event called Warriors at Work. “This year Warriors at Work will be on May 20th and 21st. Right now I have 120 tomato plants upstairs under grow lights that we’ll soon be transplanting into gallon pots and selling alongside other garden veggies and sunflowers. There will be a plant sale, silent auction, raffle, and up to 30 different vendors. The Chewelah Casino will be providing the breakfast for sale with all proceeds being donated to Valley Warriors Against Cancer and Fired Up Pizza will be running lunch and a beer garden. We’re very excited!” Darla shares.

Of note, they have 16 vendors registered for the event and still have space for 14 more vendors. For only $20 and providing an item for the raffle, vendors will have a space for both days of the event to share their wares with guests and visitors. “We usually have a good turnout. We’ve been advertising for it all over Stevens County with flyers and over the local radio,” Darla notes.

In addition to their annual Warriors at Work spring event, Valley Warriors Against Cancer also has two or three smaller events and helps out with local cancer benefits in Stevens County. “We have a Tree of Love that we bring to each event. Each leaf on the tree has the name of someone’s loved one who is struggling with cancer. We raise money for each person on our tree. And in the winter time, we try to adopt a family of someone with cancer and purchase all the Christmas gifts for the kids to make their holiday a little more special,” Darla explains.

Darla notes that the most challenging thing the non-profit faces is having to turn applicants away when the organization is low on money. “Sometimes before our major fundraiser comes up, we run low on money and we can’t take on new patients to support. We also try to save a reserve for dire cases, but those low times are the most challenging.”

Many of the Stevens County cancer patients who apply for financial assistance from Valley Warriors Against Cancer hear about the non-profit by word-of-mouth. However, they also work closely with Cancer Care Northwest and local doctors. “Our application process is actually quite simple. They fill out a request form and provide proof that they are receiving treatment for cancer. We get lots of thank you cards from the people we’ve been able to help. Each of them is so appreciative and glad to get the help they need in a timely manner,” Darla shares.

For those interested in donating time, money, or services to Valley Warriors Against Cancer and for Stevens County cancer patients seeking financial assistance, Darla can be reached at or via telephone at (509) 937-4451. If you are a business owner interested in signing up for a vendor booth for Warriors at Work, be sure to email Darla so she can send you an application and lock in your space! Stay up-to-date with Valley Warriors Against Cancer’s latest news and events on Facebook.