Dwight Stubblefield is an 85-year-old gentleman who lives in the community of Raus on his family’s seven-generation farm. He married Anne Cleek of Moore County in 1949. They had two daughters — Connie Byrum retired last year from her teaching position at Moore County Middle School and Martha Fisher is the principal at Cascade Elementary School.
In 1999, Anne was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Following a five-year battle, during which she received more than 50 chemotherapy treatments at Tullahoma Oncology Clinic, Anne died in 2004.
After 55 years of marriage and 5 years as a caregiver, Dwight was burdened with grief and was without direction. He wisely stayed active in his church and tried several volunteer jobs. He could have never predicted what God was preparing him to do.
Dwight had a burning desire to help cancer patients. He presented the idea to his church, but no direction came from the meeting. Some restless nights led him to visit the Oncology Clinic and talk with lead nurse Donna Anderson, who had been involved with his wife’s care.
Donna told him what he should do, almost before he could ask.
He can quote her exact words: “Dwight I do know what you can do. We have patients come in here, hungry, sick, can’t eat. All they can keep down is some Ensure or Boost and they don’t have a dime to buy it. These people just won’t ask for help. If we had some here in our clinic for the nurses to directly hand to them, they would accept it and be so appreciative of it.”
Then, Dwight recounts, she gave him a direct, stern look and issued his orders: “Go home and start.”
He began with collecting donations from his church and shopping for bargains. It soon became clear that he needed to apply for state and federal tax-exempt status. That required the creation of a board of directors and guidelines for his charitable organization. Thus, the Anne Stubblefield Cancer Outreach was created.
From the beginning, Dwight has depended on relatively small donations from individuals and a few churches such as Smith Chapel UMC, Mt. Lebanon UMC and his own church, Thompson Creek Baptist. He has had no business step up to sponsor him.
Information about his cancer outreach has been spread, for the most part, by word of mouth. There have been a few articles written about him, including two in farm related magazines. These have brought in some donations from outside of Tennessee.
Although he has never had a surplus of funds or product, Dwight is amazed at how God has continued to provide just what he needs, just when he needs it. In the eight years since he began, The Cancer Outreach account has never been empty.
Dwight’s mode of operation is straightforward and simple. He has developed the support of a retailer who provides a discount. Then, armed with a fist full of coupons from the manufacturer, his senior discount and careful planning, Dwight is able to double the purchasing power of every donation. He takes no expenses out for himself.
When he receives his products, he delivers them to the Tennessee Oncology Clinic in Tullahoma. The nurses hand them directly to those who physically and financially need assistance. There is no charge, paperwork or bureaucracy. If the Tullahoma clinic has a surplus, they are able to share with another oncology clinic by way of courier.
At times, individuals contact Dwight.
Occasionally the person does not have cancer, but has legitimate need for assistance with a food supplement because of an inability to eat normally. Dwight’s Board of Directors was careful to write their guidelines so as to not be restrictive as far as the reason for the need or the recipient’s county of residence.
Thus far, Dwight has distributed approximately 10,000 bottles of Ensure and Boost. His cost runs about $6,000 a year.
Anyone, or any church, business or civic organization looking for a cause to support, The Anne Stubblefield Cancer Outreach has proven to be worthy of consideration. Mail donations to 3940 Highway 130E, Tullahoma, TN 37388. For more information, call Dwight at (931) 695-5251.