The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, which along with Olympic Medical Center, has brought first rate cancer care to the Olympic Peninsula, will be the first recipient of the OMC Foundation’s Rick Kaps Award, which annually will recognize an institution or individual for their support of cancer care on the North Olympic Peninsula.
The award will be presented at the 11th annual Harvest of Hope Dinner, which benefits the Olympic Medical Cancer Center, on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Sunland Golf & Country Club in Sequim.
Those interested in attending should contact the OMC Foundation office at 417-7144.
Named for Rick Kaps, the award honors the highly successful Sequim High School basketball coach and consummate educator who died from the disease in 1998 at age 55.
“I think that Rick Kaps was the closest thing our town has had to a hero,” said fellow Sequim High School educator Mark Textor.
The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has brought both financial support and its world acclaimed expertise to enhance cancer care on the peninsula. Uniting physicians from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington Medicine and Seattle Children’s Hospital under one network, the SCCA has teamed with OMC cancer care providers to substantially improve the level of cancer care available at OMCC.
Along with that, the alliance has brought best practices to the peninsula and provides continuing medical education to physicians and supporting staff of the OMCC.
OMC was the alliance’s first affiliate member in 1993. The SCCA facilitates the flow of scientific information among researchers, clinicians and patients to accelerate the development of new knowledge and treatment of various cancers.
“The SCCA’s mission is to make sure cancer patients across the North Olympic Peninsula have access to the best treatments and technologies available,” said Cecilia Zapata, director of regional and global network and physician educational outreach at SCCA.
Kaps had a highly successful career as a Sequim High School basketball coach. His 1988 team, led by son Ryan, finished second in the state with no starter over 6-feet 3 inches tall, losing to Rainier Beach — a team led future NBA star Doug Christie.
Four of Kaps’ teams made it to the state tournament while six were district champions. He was named Washington State basketball coach of the year in 1988.
When Kaps died from cancer in February 1998, more than 1,000 people attended his services.
“Rick Kaps may be best known as the highly successful coach of Sequim basketball games,” wrote Sequim Gazette editor Jim Manders, “but there was much more to the man than what happened on a shiny wooden court.”
“I have memories of breaking chalk and flying clipboards, but through it all, I know that he always cared about his players,” said Larry Hill, who was Kaps’ assistant and succeeded him as head coach. “Most people remember him as a coach, but first and foremost, he was a teacher.”
“He really knew what was important in life, which was relationships with people he cared about,” said Kaps’ son Ryan, who went on to play basketball at the University of Washington and Weber State University.
“ … the epitome of what you’d want a high school educator to be,” wrote Chuck Stark of the Bremerton Sun. “He was one in a million,” said longtime friend Dave Blake. “He would drop everything to help someone in need.”
Hill said most people didn’t realize Kaps, who remained athletic director at Sequim until retiring in 1996, would adopt a non-basketball student ever year.
“It was usually somebody out of the mainstream and Rick would see something he liked in a kid,” said Hill.
“A lot of those kids have grown because he’d give them the time of day. It was a fascinating experience to watch him do that every year. He really enjoyed it and I don’t think a lot of people understood that side of him.”