Cancer-care group to be given first award named for Sequim educator
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The award will be presented at the 11th annual Harvest of Hope Dinner, which benefits the OMC Cancer Center, at the SunLand Golf & Country Club, 109 Hilltop Drive.
The award will annually recognize an institution or individual for their support of cancer care on the North Olympic Peninsula, said Bruce Skinner, director of the OMC Foundation.
The award honors Kaps, a successful Sequim High School basketball coach and educator who died of cancer when he was 55 years old.
“I think that Rick Kaps was the closest thing our town has had to a hero,” said fellow Sequim High educator Mark Textor.
The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has brought both financial support and its 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 Seattle Cancer Care Alliance has teamed with OMC cancer care providers to substantially improve the level of cancer care available at the OMC Cancer Center,” Skinner said.
“Along with that, the alliance has brought best practices to the Peninsula and provides continuing medical education to physicians and supporting staff of the OMC Cancer Center,” he continued.
OMC was the alliance's first affiliate member in 2002. The group 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.
During Kaps' career, his 1988 team, led by son Ryan, finished second in the state with nary a starter over 6-foot-3, losing to Rainier Beach, which was led by future NBA star Doug Christie, Skinner said.
Four of his teams made it to the tournament, while six were district champions.
He was named Washington state basketball coach of the year in 1988.
When Kaps died of 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 then, “but there was much more to the man than what happened on a shiny wooden court.”
'One in a million'
Said Larry Hill, who was Kaps' assistant and succeeded him as head coach: “I have memories of breaking chalk and flying clipboards, but through it all, I know that he always cared about his players.
“Most people remember him as a coach, but first and foremost, he was a teacher,” Hill said.
“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.
“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 every year.
“It was usually somebody out of the mainstream, and Rick would see something he liked in a kid,” Hill said.
“A lot of those kids have grown because he'd give them the time of day,” Hill continued.
“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.”
Last modified: October 19. 2013 2:01PM