Nonprofit Spotlight: The December 5th Fund

“To give back a day without worry, a day without the normal burdens that many take for granted.” 

The December 5th Fund (D5F) creates once-in-a-lifetime memories for families affected by cancer and provides ongoing support for the family as they continue the long journey through treatment. 

The December 5th Fund was founded by Tom Wiley. Tom was inspired by the last “great day” he and his children had with his late-wife, Laura, on December 5, 2015. At that point, Laura’s health had significantly declined as a result of breast cancer that had spread to her bones, causing her a considerable amount of pain. However, on that day, Laura experienced “a great day, a pain-free day,” which she spent making memories with her family. 

After Laura’s passing in January of 2016, Tom thought about the community of people who helped during the trying times of cancer treatment. It was then that an idea was born to create an organization “to give families a chance to be a family again, and to give them a great day full of wonderful memories that they can treasure long after the burden of cancer is gone.” Since its inception in 2016, D5F has provided services for over 65 families through its Great Day and Helping Hands Support Plan programs. 

D5F finds families in need through a nomination form on their website. Once a family is nominated, D5F meets with the nominator and takes the time to learn about each family: what they enjoy doing together and what would hold the most meaning. An individual’s health is also taken into consideration to ensure that they are feeling as well as possible for their Great Day. 

Then, D5F builds a unique and personalized experience they will remember forever. This can be anything from a sporting event to private dining experiences. More than anything, “it’s a day to get back one of the most precious commodities in life while you’re caring for someone with cancer—time.” 

Before and after yard work.

While the family is out enjoying their day, as a surprise, D5F volunteers head to the family’s home to help with household chores such as yard work or cleaning. “When the family returns, it’s to a house full of love and hope, not a to-do list.” 

Just a few weeks ago, D5F sent a family on a behind-the-scenes tour at the Saint Louis Zoo. While they were gone, volunteers power washed their patio, put up a new pergola and shed, and tidied up their yard. The family came home to a catered barbecue dinner with their family and friends. 

Many of the organization’s 500+ volunteers were introduced to The December 5th Fund because they have a loved one who participated in a Great Day program. “It’s very cool to see other families we have helped—those who have seen firsthand what we do and know what it meant to their family—sign up to help volunteer for other families,” said Ryan Farmer, Chief Operating Officer. Volunteers sign up for jobs ahead of time to ensure they are always doing work that matches their skill and comfort level. 

A D5F family.

Great Day program families also receive support from the Helping Hands Support Plan. This program provides families with up to six months of continuous care including meal prep services, laundry services, house cleaning, lawn care, and childcare at no cost. D5F is the only organization in the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan area committed to providing ongoing support connected to household maintenance. 

The December 5th Fund has recently expanded into Southern Illinois with the goal of increasing the number of families they can help annually. Donations raised on Give STL Day, returning on May 5, 2022, will be directed towards this effort.