Skip to content
BACK to News

Spreading Kisses for Ken

Published on March 18, 2015 in Events, Fundraising, In the Community, Volunteering

Guest Author: Debra Askanase, Director of Outreach

When Tama Cobb’s nephew Kenny was just a little boy, he was drawn to the number 18.

Like many young children, Kenny was incredulous to the larger world around him.

“The biggest number to him was 18,” says Tama. “He used to say “I love you 18.'”

It was cute and endearing and a little eccentricity Tama has always remembered – not in the least bit because Kenny was her godson.

* * *

When you meet Tama Cobb, you cannot help but be swept up by her energy. She is a tireless whirlwind of creativity and positivity.

So when Kenny was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008, it was not going to be possible for Tama to stand by.

He wasn’t just my nephew…he was my godson and my best friend. We had a connection that no one can explain. It was hard to watch him go through everything and not be able to do anything about it.

em's birthday
Shauna (Kenny’s wife), Kenny, and Tama together in 2012

Inspired by Kenny, Tama formed a team for the Boston Brain Tumor Walk aptly named “18 Kisses for Ken.”

“It brought everyone together and helped us get through the surgery,” shares Tama. “It gave Kenny a passion — something other than his own tumor to focus on.”

But Tama did not stop there. She became a volunteer advocate for the National Brain Tumor Society, attending the 2014 Head to the Hill event with her daughter Emily, Kenny’s first cousin.

“Kenny planned on being there but couldn’t,” says Tama. He was very ill, and passed away the following month, in June 2014.

Head to the Hill gave us such a feeling to be able to speak up and speak on his behalf. At the event, you feel like you are part of a bigger family, with everyone coming together fighting for one thing. It was amazing and empowering.

Creativity and Family

It’s easy enough to ask friends and family for money, but how do you reach beyond those touched by someone with a brain tumor to give to your cause? Since deciding to form a Walk team in the Summer of 2013, the extended Cobb family (including Pendleton and Eadie families) has hosted numerous community events. They have hosted a summer beach party cookout in Clinton, CT, charging $20 a head; a Farm Day in Broadbrook, CT with hayrides, activities for the family and a craft sale; and an 18 Kisses for Ken fundraiser.

Regarding the 18 Kisses for Ken fundraiser, Tama thought, “with a name like 18 Kisses, why can’t we kiss someone?” She created home-made signs and large, bright orange lips. Supporters make a donation to place nine lips (or kisses) per lawn, two lawns at a time, for $20 a lawn, equaling 18 kisses. In order to rid the lawn of the kisses, the person who has been “kissed” must make a donation to Tama’s 18 Kisses for Ken Boston Brain Tumor Walk team directly, and select someone else to be “kissed” with the $20 donation.

The Clinton (CT) Chamber of Commerce after it had been “Kissed.”

The Clinton Chamber of Commerce was last kissed, and Tama hopes that this fundraiser will continue to spread.

Tama’s daughter Emily also hosts community fundraising events in New Hampshire, where she lives. A local restaurant has held several 50/50 raffles, and the owner has donated proceeds from the night to the National Brain Tumor Society. Emily has also held a clothing swap for $10 per person, and this year donated her birthday to the National Brain Tumor Society, raising $500.

This year, Tama has put together a race team at the Race for Hope – DC event, as well. Since the Race takes place the day before National Brain Tumor Society’s annual advocacy day on Capitol Hill, she appropriately named her team Head to the Hill, and extends an invitation to anyone who would also like to walk/race in DC May 3.

As Tama says, “We like to have fun. We like to raise money. We like family things.”

And together Tama and her family have raised more than $40,000 in just two years fundraising on behalf of the National Brain Tumor Society!

Thank you for all you do, Tama. You inspire us.

Beach Party
Volunteers at the “18 Kisses for Ken” Beach Day.

TAGGED WITH: brain cancer, brain tumor

Stay Informed & Connected