In 2004 Kathy Houk was diagnosed with Stage 3 Colon Cancer. Her doctor told her "plan for the worst". Following her surgery, she started chemo therapy. Her body rejected the chemo and she almost died. Her oncologist had to consult with other doctors to 'design' a custom treatment plan for her cancer. The chemo she was given lasted for 12 months. Much longer than any other plan her doctor had ever prescribed. During her treatment, Kathy was always positive and continued to do 'the chores' on the family farm.
At one point, Kathy prayed to God to ask him to let her live to see her granddaughter grow up. She told God that if he did that for her, she 'would become a better person'. At the time, she had no idea what that meant.
After she completed her treatment (2005), she and her husband George took a trip to Peru ...... she had always wanted to see Machu Picchu. Kathy arrived in Peru thinking that she would be part of a large tour group but was surprised to be greated by Gary Sanchez. Kathy and husband George had a private tour ...... just Kathy, George, and Gary. Gary shared his vision for helping the poor children of Peru. When the contracted part of the tour would end each day, Gary would take Kathy and George out in to the rural villages and communities surrounding Cusco. Kathy imediately knew she would become a part of this vision and would do what she could to help these poor children. Gary asked if she would like to help a village (Anapauha) with a Christmas Party. These children had never had Christmas Party. Kathy said "Yes"!
Upon returning home, Kathy and George tried sending gifts to the children...... a $10 doll cost almost $10 to send and it would take almost 2 months to get the gifts to Peru. So, Kathy decided to trust Gary with the money. She had only known him for a few days but knew it was the right thing to do. The village of Anapauha was located two hours walking time after the road ended. That meant that Gary had to walk two hours there and two hours back just to collect the information for the gifts. Then when it was time for the party, he would have to use mules to get the gifts and supplies to Anapauha. That was the first Desana Project..... (view photos of Anapauha Project)
Desana was formed in early 2007 and a 501(c)3 desination was given by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
Kathy continued to build Desana from 2006 to the present even though, as Kathy says, "Cancer is the disease that keeps on giving" ..... her cancer and treatment have taken it's toll on her body. It seems as though you get one thing fixed and another pops up. In 2010 Kathy's oncologist gave her a big hug and told her, "you know, you were not supposed to be here..... your cancer was very bad. God must have a purpose for you." That is right..... Kathy has taken the gift from God and has built Desana to the charity it is..... helping thousands of people each year. All from a trip she wanted to take while still on chemo.
Kathy continues to be the driving force behind Desana.....
.....and she has been given the gift of watching her granddaughter grow up. Kaleigh is growing into a wonderful person that is very caring and giving. I am sure she gets that from Kathy.