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Lightwell Foundation Lights the way for Pediatric Cancer

People may be familiar with the Bozeman 3, a non-profit organization working to assist children fighting cancer in Gallatin County, but now the operation has a brand-new name, and Tobi Kirsch, newest board president, wants to shed some new light on “The Lightwell Foundation.”

The original Bozeman 3 rose out of a unique bond, forged between three families as they shared their experiences while fighting for the lives of their children. All of them were far from home, far from their support system, and they met in the hallways of Seattle Children’s Hospital in the Oncology Unit in 2012. “While each one of their children faced a different form of cancer, these kids along with their parents, definitely possessed a resolve to fight,” Tobi said.  “They bonded over things like, a mutual love of the Bridger Mountains, or shopping at the same grocery store,” she said. “There were small things like that as well as momentous things…. knowing what it’s like to cradle your child in a small room while waiting for test results and missing entire seasons at home…. they wept together when it seemed cancer was winning and rejoiced together at the many victories.”

It was through these shared experiences and a common desire to support other local families facing similar challenges, that the Bozeman 3 finally became a reality in 2014. Now, 8 years of providing support to many more families than the original 3, and recognizing the grown opportunities of the organization, the Bozeman 3 has been renamed Lightwell Foundation and currently has 5 members on the board. “We would like to have 9 so we are in the process of recruiting right now,” Tobi said.

The organization hosts 3 fundraisers each year to raise the necessary funds for providing support to all the families they help and according to Tobi, all three are a “ton of fun” with a different feel surrounding each. The first is a Super Bowl Fun Run which is held the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The R Bar downtown is utilized as headquarters and is the start and finish line for the 5 K run. The second fundraiser is the “Give Big Gallatin Valley” and the third, held in mid-September, is the “End of Summer Fun Fest” complete with a band, a silent auction, bouncy houses for the kids and lots of fun activities and treats. “They help us to do what we do,” Tobi said. “Lightwell not only offers financial and peer support to Gallatin County families who are battling cancer, we also support pediatric cancer research.”  She said there are many things that set Lightwell apart from other non-profits and one of those is the fact that the board is made up strictly of volunteers with each member serving for 3 years. “And, when we give quarterly to our families, they get to decide themselves where they need the money the most,” Tobi said. “We do not dictate how they use the funds or ask for proof of any financial information from the families.”

If anyone is interested in getting involved with the Lightwell Foundation, whether it’s joining the board, making a donation or just volunteering at one of the events, they can go to the website at and email the foundation directly with their contact information. “You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram where we always have updates,” Tobi said. “We love our community and all the support they have always offered and hope to get even more people involved.”