TOPEKA (KSNT) — Former Chiefs free safety Deron Cherry created the Deron Cherry Foundation more than 30 years ago, but it is still making a huge impact on communities across Kansas and into Missouri.
Deron Cherry played for the Chiefs from 1981 to 1991, and, following his time with the team, he earned a place in the Hall of Fame. But one day, while watching a program on TV, Cherry got the idea of creating an organization that served the community in more ways than one.
Tia Alexander is a mother of four in Topeka whose son, Zach, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005. He began going to Camp Quality, a camp where children with cancer can go with their siblings to have fun, forget about treatments and enjoy summer for a while. It was here that Tia found out about the Deron Cherry Foundation.
“The director is actually also involved with the Deron Cherry Foundation because they are one of the beneficiaries,” Alexander said.
Camp Quality is one of four beneficiaries for the foundation that ultimately aims to help children, animals, veterans and first responders across Kansas and into Missouri. Cherry even expressed that he wants the foundations’ efforts to become nationwide someday.
“It’s just continuing to grow. We continue to look for opportunities to help people and just to help out the community. That’s what we do with our foundation,” Cherry said.
For this reason, Tia started volunteering for the foundation and speaking at events and fundraisers. She wanted to help spread awareness about childhood cancer by sharing her son’s story and keeping his memory alive.
“Telling our son’s story at these events, to help remind people of what the purposes are for the beneficiaries that are receiving the funds, helps me serve my purpose in that way,” Alexander said.
Her efforts and volunteering has not gone to waste. By Tia sharing her family and son’s story, Cherry says that the foundation has benefited tremendously.
“You know, last year, she told her story at our banquet about her kid. It actually helped us raise $20,000 just like that,” Alexander said.
Tia’s son Zach is someone who will always be remembered, as his story continues to be told and his family continues to tell it.
“I love talking about him. I can talk about him all the time,” Alexander said. “I love when people ask me about him. When people say they remember my son, or they’ll come up to me and say, ‘Hey, I forgot about something, but this is what Zach did.'”
The goal of the Deron Cherry Foundation is to continue to work for families across Kansas and Missouri, and someday, hopefully, the nation.
If you want to donate or volunteer, click here for their website and additional information.