The mission of We Care is actually quite simple:

The We Care Endowment fulfills Larry and Brenda Zitek’s desire to assist individuals and families who face life-threatening and devastating illnesses, and the significant—and sometimes extraordinary—out-of-pocket expenses that result from them.

The hard part for Brenda Zitek is talking about the “why.”

Her husband, Larry, died of a brain tumor in September 2015, and it all happened in a blink of an eye.

“Larry’s diagnosis (in July 2014) came less than three weeks after his first episode of dizziness and lightheadedness,” Brenda said. “Those episodes just started to increase, but never did we think this is what the diagnosis would be. When you get a diagnosis like this, shock sets in, then chaos. You need to make decisions and make them fast.

“We’re here to help ease the financial burden of making those decisions.”

Larry was 60. He was a successful businessman. The Zitek family had the resources to get the best care and medical attention. But not everyone can afford that, and that did not sit well with Larry.

That is how We Care came to be.

“We were really lucky that we had the financial ability, the insurance. We had people who opened doors for us,” Brenda said. “Larry thought everybody should have this opportunity.”

Sometimes, just money for travel expenses to see specialists at Mayo Clinic or MD Anderson can make a world of difference. That is where We Care comes in.

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Here is a testimonial from cancer patient Angela Gengler:

“The grant we received from We Care covered the cost of travel and lodging for the duration of our stay. What a gift. It is difficult to express what that money meant to us. Yes, it eased the financial burden, but more importantly it allowed me to have my family close to me through the surgeries and recovery.”

We Care is a 501(c)(3) charity funded primarily through private donations. Two Iron Chef fundraisers for the cause have totaled more than $75,000. And $25,000 went to We Care from a joint fundraiser between the 100s Who Care women’s and men’s groups in Lincoln.

The Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska provides the umbrella for We Care, although Brenda shared that the people they have helped so far come from all different religious backgrounds. And regardless of faith, We Care offers spiritual support as well as financial assistance.

“Our patients who have come to us with devastating diagnoses, they are young, and they want hope,” Brenda said.

Brenda said We Care has helped 25 grantees so far in three years, with amounts of between $3,000 and $5,000 to cover travel and lodging when seeking a consultation or treatment from a facility specializing in advanced diagnosis.

Dollars for hope.

“So many times, the financial burden of getting that second opinion makes the decision for them,” she said. “We Care wants to take away that financial burden.”

To apply for a We Care grant or to make a donation, visit wecareendowment.org

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