Thank you video turns into flash mob supporting mom with cancer
It started as coffee with friends and the chance to put together a short thank you video to those who had donated to a GoFundMe for Amanda and Clint Kofoed. The Nampa mom had been diagnosed in October with Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma, and donations had been steadily coming in via the crowdfunding website.
As the couple began telling their story, more friends started trickling into Nampa’s Flying M Coffee Garage, leaving $100 bills as they passed the Kofoeds' table. Slowly it dawned on Amanda that this wasn't an opportunity to film a video at all — it was the work of the Praynksters, a Boise group whose goal is to create "acts of kindness that surprise people," according to Jesse Fadel, a childhood friend of the Kofoeds' and co-founder of the group.
"I saw people I hadn't seen in years," Amanda, 30, said. "They were crying and we were crying."
Fadel coordinated the donation, which has a video with more than 2,500 views on YouTube, with Praynksters co-founder Jeffrey Paul, himself a cancer survivor and friend of the Kofoeds, and family friends Robert Frazier and Jessie Horney.
Soon, almost 200 Praynksters volunteers filled the coffee shop, and tears filled Clint and Amanda's eyes. In all, they handed the Kofoeds more than $13,000, offsetting the daunting cost of cancer treatment for Amanda, who lacks health insurance.
"It's a picture of what a great person Amanda is that so many people showed up, and it's a testament to our community," said Fadel, whose family was the first through the door with a donation.
Until her cancer diagnosis, Amanda was a student in her final semester at Northwest Nazarene University, studying to become a teacher. Clint works for the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage and, while he gets health insurance through his job, it simply cost too much to insure Amanda right now. Their four children are on Medicaid.
Amanda said she was planning to get on Clint's health care plan come January, but that plan was quickly derailed when she found a strange lump on her arm in early October. She was hesitant to get it checked out, until a nurse practitioner friend urged her to. Reluctantly, she made an appointment.
"When I first found out (the diagnosis), I asked if they could delay my treatment until January," Amanda said. "That's really what's so sad — we were so close."
The survivability rate of Hodgkin's is good, and the Kofoeds and their friends are optimistic.
"It's kind of like winning the cancer lottery, from what I understand," said Amanda, who has been able to start treatment already thanks to the funds raised by the Praynksters and the GoFundMe campaign, which by Tuesday evening had brought in more than $12,000 toward its $25,000 goal. "Having the money has helped alleviate the fear that I wouldn't be able to treat something that's treatable."
More than just money, the donations have been a source of strength for the Kofoeds, who see the support as a testament to God's love for them.
"We knew when things got hard we had people to help us,” Amanda said. “The financial support is wonderful and relieves a huge burden, but the community support is so much more for us.”
She said she hopes to return to school and begin her student teaching, though she knows beating cancer will mean years of continued checkups and treatments.
In the meantime, Amanda keeps thinking the hubbub will die down, but outpourings of funds and support have yet to wane.
"You just don't think it's going to be as big a deal as it's been,” she said.
Still, it wasn't a surprise to the Kofoeds that their friends would come through for them — it's how their relationships have always been. Not to mention, the Praynksters have done about a dozen similar projects in the two years since its inception.
"This one was different than some of the others," Fadel said. "Clint was my best friend growing up, and Amanda has been a good friend of mine since grade school."
While Fadel is no stranger to the Praynksters limelight, for Amanda the attention has been something to get used to.
"One thing I'm learning is that I'm feeling really unworthy of all of this ... like there are probably people out there more in need than I am," she said.
"But people want to love us, and it's a blessing to let them be a part of it in this way. It's not as much about me as other people's goodness and generosity."