“Ketchikan, Alaska.” Credit: Jonathan

August 12, 2017; Ketchikan Daily News

Heaven vetoes hell in Ketchikan, Alaska. In the state’s southeasternmost city, an all-volunteer nonprofit group called First City Council on Cancer (FCCC) provides financial assistance to cancer patients. This town of 8,050 residents has raised and given away more than $2 million to cancer patients since 1995. These financial gifts cover crucial expenses for travel, lodging, medication, and equipment to people in Ketchikan, Petersburg, Wrangell, Metlakatla, and the towns and villages on Prince of Wales Island. FCCC also supports the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

When FCCC’s annual event in March fell short of its goal, ambitious volunteers sprang into action with a new idea: On September 16th, FCCC will auction decorated chairs (from high chairs to stools) at Ketchikan High School. They are calling the initiative a “chairity.”

Meanwhile, the 12-year-old Madisen Lundamo delivered the first painted chair, honoring her grandmother Judi Lundamo, who has been battling a rare type of smooth-muscle cancer for nearly a decade.

“She’s always been a very sweet person,” Madisen Lundamo said. “She has been a steady rock. She’s very supportive of what I do, and I love her.”

Her chair: It transitions top to bottom from mint green to teal—featuring stenciled sea creatures and legs of octopus suckers, barnacles or “whatever you see when you look at it”—for an under-the-sea type of feel.

They are asking everyone, from families to scout troops, to decoratively paint 70 chairs in memory or honor of someone. FCCC is new to this concept, but many others are not. Here are images of chairs designed by prominent celebrities in Los Angeles for a local charity.

Transforming furniture into beautiful and thoughtful pieces of art as a way to help restore hope for the families served by FCCC is worthy of national attention. This town’s commitment to each other guarantees their success.

“I was wanting to do something strange,” said Kelley, who with her sister, Maida, runs the meet-the-artist watercolors booth along Mill Street in downtown Ketchikan,” but my sister said, ‘No, act normal.’”

While acts of lunacy, hatred, paranoia, and violence may dominate the nation’s headlines, the news in Ketchikan is about 12-year-old Madisen Lundamo’s work of art for the benefit of someone contending with cancer. Ketchikan is also known for having the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles. How fitting for a community with so many giving stories to keep alive.—Jim Schaffer