Multiple fundraisers are being held to help support a Van Buren police officer who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
A barbecue will be Saturday at Momentum Church at 4810 Alma Highway in Van Buren. A 5K run and 1 mile fun walk is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, at 8:30 a.m. at Lee Creek Park.
Both events will benefit Officer Mike Stewart with the Van Buren Police Department, who is battling cancer.
Proceeds from the events are meant to help Stewart offset his medical, travel and other expenses.
Stewart was diagnosed two months ago with pseudomyxoma peritonei - commonly known as a mucous or mucinous tumor.
“Sometime years ago, without me knowing it, my appendix ruptured … and leaked fluid into my body,” Stewart said. “That toxic fluid is what caused these tumors over the years.”
Stewart’s form of cancer is extremely rare, he said, and only three hospitals in the U.S. have doctors who treat it. Stewart must travel to CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., to see a specialist.
In between visits to Omaha, Stewart is receiving chemotherapy from an area hospital every other week, he said. He begins his third treatment next week, he said.
“They have a very high success rate with this type of cancer and treating it, so that’s encouraging,” Stewart said.
Stewart is overwhelmed by the show of support from his fellow officers and the community, he said.
A number of local businesses, groups and individuals have given donations, held fundraisers and showed solidarity with the officer during his struggle, he said.
“They have sent funds to help defray costs,” said Tom Hill, pastor at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Van Buren. “Members of the VBPD have come by with food, some have come by so as to have prayer, and the outpouring is incredible.”
Hill attended the same church and grew up with Stewart in Fort Smith, he said. He heard from Stewart about the outpouring of support from the VBPD and other departments across the state through the Fraternal Order of Police.
“Mike is a good policeman and many in the community know him and might like to help,” Hill said.
A rifle donated by A and B Pawn and Jewelry will be raffled off during the barbecue on Sept. 10, and raffle tickets can be purchased at the VBPD. A signed Arkansas Razorbacks basketball will be auctioned off, and a sport memorabilia silent auction will be held, as well.
Entry fee for the 5K is $20 and medals will be awarded to the top three males and females in the race.
Packet pickup will be the day of the race starting at 7:30 a.m. in Mike Meyer Riverfront Park. The race is not certified, but will have a finish clock and times will be recorded and posted.
Registration forms for the race can be picked up at the VBPD, the Van Buren Municipal Complex, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or from members of the Van Buren Police Officers Association FOP Lodge #52 and other members of the VBPD and their families.