‘Something special’: Lyle Area Cancer Auction continues tradition of fighting cancerPublished 4:23pm Saturday, January 19, 2013
LYLE — On Dec. 28, Tiny Johnson had major surgery for colon cancer.
But on Friday night — exactly three weeks later — Johnson was once again well enough to open up the bidding of the Lyle Area Cancer Auction, as he’s done for more than a decade.
“It’s a great honor,” Johnson said, who took the first hour of the auction before handing off duties to other auctioneers.
Along with a cancerous tumor,doctors removed Johnson’s appendix, his gull bladder and fixed a hernia.
“They really cleaned me out,” he said.
But Johnson, a longtime auctioneer and founder of the Lucille Johnson Pool Tournament, didn’t want to miss the auction.
“This is something special,” he said.
Johnson kicked off the 34th annual auction in Lyle by auctioning off a 10 pound bag of potatoes and urging bidders to “get them ol’ numbers up there.”
The cancer auction brought people from around the area together in the Lyle city maintenance building and the Lyle American Legion to raise money for cancer research.
When Co-chair Larry Ricke spoke to start the auction a few minutes after 6 p.m. Friday, he had a simple goal.
“If we raise one dollar, we’ve succeeded,” he said.
But the auction has done much better than that in recent years. In 2012, LAC raised $171,000, and if LAC brings in more than $100,000 this year it would mark the 10th-straight year in six figures.
The auction has become a culmination of about 15 events spread throughout the year, like the Halfway to January Cancer Bash, the Crop for the Cure, the Delmar Raymaker Concert for the Cure and more.
Between auctioning items, organizers of the other 15 events present the money they raised during the year.
“They get up there and get the credit they deserve because they work extremely, extremely hard to raise money,” Ricke said.
These events also help expand the base of the LAC and bring new people into the fold, according to Ricke.
“You’ve got to think outside the box,” he said.
LAC committee member Gary Ziegler was proud to announce the last tickets for this year’s Harley raffle sold by Friday afternoon, almost a day ahead of normal. By selling out, the raffle surpassed $250,000 earned in 12 years. The winner of the Harley was scheduled to be selected at 10 p.m. Saturday.
Ziegler said the added events have been a huge part of LAC’s success.
“You can even max out an auction, you can physically have only so many bidders and so much space,” he said. “So the other events have been equally as important.”
Plus, Ziegler and Ricke both said using the Lyle maintenance building, along with serving food in the Lyle American Legion, gives them more space than when the auction was only at the Lyle American Legion.
‘I know all about it’
While Johnson was able to make it to the auction, doctors told him he couldn’t attend last weekend’s pool tournament.
Johnson is no stranger to cancer, as he started the pool tournament on honor of his wife, Lucille, who battled cancer for almost two decades.
“My wife had it for 18 years, so I know all about,” Johnson said.
Lucille died in 2000, and the pool tournament has since raised more than $300,000.
Johnson admitted Friday he’s not 100 percent recovered after his surgery and had someone to help him at the auction.
Still, Ricke said it was very impressive to see Johnson kicking off the auction a few weeks removed from surgery.
More to come
LAC isn’t done adding new events to its docket. Last year marked the first Cycle for a Cure hosted by SASS, the St. Ansgar Saints Spinning Club.
The event featured 170 people riding indoor exercise bikes about for 15 hours. Riders each paid $20 for an hour ride.
Organizer Deb Igou said it’s a good event for anyone who enjoys cycling, loud music and an event with energy.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said.
The 2013 Cycle for a Cure is slated for Feb. 22 and 23 in St. Ansgar, Iowa. Along with the cycling, organizers are adding yoga slots this year.
When the organizers originally approached Ricke with the idea, he had to double-take with what spinning for a cure meant, but he told them to run with the idea.
Though he wouldn’t announce the totals before the group’s presentation at the auction, he said he was shocked with how successful it was.
“The time that they started to the time they finished and the amount of money that they raised would blow you away,” Ricke said. “It blew me away.”