GROTON -- Nashoba Valley Technical High School and the town of Groton are joining forces to raise money for Kevin McKenzie, Groton's representative to the Nashoba Tech School Committee, who is battling lung cancer.

McKenzie, a member of the committee for more than a decade, is in a Rhode Island care facility, while his family -- wife Melissa and grown children, Amanda and Corey -- shuttle back and forth to spend time with him.

McKenzie's insurance will not pay for his stay in the facility, which costs $400 a day, a decision his family is appealing with Blue Cross Shield.

The fundraising drive kicked off Thursday, June 20, with a Comedy Night sponsored by the Nashoba Tech Boosters Club and held at The Bull Run in Shirley.

The event was originally organized as a benefit for Nashoba Tech's athletics program, but a few days before the event, the club decided to change the event's focus and donate the money to the McKenzie family, calling the night "Comedy for Kevin."

"I'm very proud that Nashoba Tech was able to kick off this effort for Kevin," Nashoba Tech Superintendent Dr. Judith L. Klimkiewicz said. "This shows the generosity of the whole Nashoba family, the community, staff, Athletic Department, teachers. Our school theme this year is 'A Year of Caring,' and what better way to illustrate that theme than by raising money for Kevin and his family?"

According to Berta Erickson, a member of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee and a friend of the McKenzie family, the town has formed a committee of people who are hoping to come up other fundraising ideas, including a wine-tasting and golf tournament. Also, the town's Fourth of July activities will include a McKenzie family fundraiser.

The group is also hoping a Facebook page dedicated to McKenzie will spread the word.

Jennifer Rhodes, chairwoman of the Nashoba Tech School Committee, a role McKenzie has held twice, said she's happy the school can help.

"Our goal is to raise funds to help offset the medical costs associated with Kevin's care," Rhodes said. "It's exciting that Nashoba Tech can have the kickoff event. Kevin is such a great guy. He's done so much for Nashoba Tech and the town of Groton. It's nice to see the community rallying around his family."

McKenzie has been on the Nashoba Tech committee for a decade, starting as an alternate.

"He brought life to Groton's representation at Nashoba Tech," Erickson said. "He did very good, visible work."

Added Dr. Klimkiewicz: "Kevin was the Groton representative, but he believed himself to be a Nashoba Valley Technical School District representative. We'd see him at community events in Townsend or Littleton. He represented the school, not just Groton, the town he loved.

"We'd be at a Town Meeting in Pepperell, and he'd show up," she added. "If he thought a problem was going to be raised, he'd be there. The School Committee was a really important part of his life. All Kevin wanted was for Nashoba to become the school he wanted it to be."