Area residents preparing for annual cancer fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 2, 2002

LYLE -- Somewhere somebody whispered "Thanks" on Thanksgiving Day for Charley Berg.

Maybe, Lois Kaput for her daughter Sharon.

Somewhere else somebody said "Thanks" for "Tiny" Johnson.

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It could have been his kids, remembering their mother, Lucille.

Somebody surely remembered to thank the pool players at Carpenter, Iowa.

In only two years time, they have hustled their way to over $24,000 in winnings for the victims.

People don't forget what happened last January at Lyle American Legion Post No. 105. Especially cancer survivors and the relatives and friends of cancer victims.

"Our motto is 'Working together. Investing in a cure' and that's what we aim to do again in January," said Gary Ziegler, one of the organizers for the annual Lyle Area Cancer Auction.

Last January, that meant raising a record $81,200 for cancer research. In the 23 years of the auction and related activities, over $344,000 has been raised.

One of the keys to the success of the fund-raiser is the loyalty of the organizers and the generosity of supporters. The latter includes small gestures with big results such as the wood craftsmanship of a Lyle resident.

Joan Yocom won't reveal what her father, Charley Berg, is creating in his shop. All Yocom will say is "it's something special."

Each year, Berg fashions a unique, one-of-a-kind car, truck or tractor that is auctioned to raise money for cancer research. The Berg items always bring the most money.

Berg's daughter, Yocom, is among a handful of new volunteers preparing for the 2003 auction. "I wanted to help out in some way. I think I will be doing some clerking," Yocom said.

It sounds like an understatement, when you consider the annual Lyle Area Cancer Auction each January is one of the top money-raisers for the Eagles Cancer Telethon.

Funds raised in January help research efforts at the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and Hormel Institute.

When the weekend arrives, almost everyone joins the fun and fund-raising.

Last Monday night (Nov. 24), organizers held a planning meeting for the Jan. 16 and 18, 2003, auction at Post No. 105.

Ooops … make that the city maintenance garage next door to the Legion headquarters. When families with children, senior citizens, young adults and teenagers crowd into the Post No. 105 dining room with 100s of donated auction items, there's not much room left to maneuver.

That's why the auction needs more space.

"We are getting so big that we decided we needed more room, so the city is allowing us to hold our auction in the maintenance garage next door," said Gary Ziegler. "We'll still need the Legion Post, too."

Homemade soups, sandwiches, hot drinks and cold beverages and other snacks will be served in the Legion Post, where the auction activity next door will be broadcast so no one misses the opportunity to bid on an item.

Another change will be the bright, blue denim shirts worn by volunteers. According to organizers, it will foster the "one for all, all for one" camaraderie of the volunteers.

Classic cycle raffle

Jeff Peterson and David Baldner of Midwest Door Company of Austin have once again donated a motorcycle for a raffle drawing.

The centennial model is a Harley Davidson Road King Classic.

Also sponsoring the motorcycle raffle are Agri Steel and Duane Corson and First Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Austin and Steve Gleason.

This year, 2,100 tickets at $20 each are being sold.

The cycle has a retail value of $21,472.

All proceeds from the charity raffle go to the Lyle Area Cancer Auction.

Cheryl Wallace, Austin, won the first Harley Davidson cycle given away last January.

Why is Midwest Door Company of Austin involved? "Just to give something back to the community," said Baldner. "It's a good cause."

Fund-raising diversity

A pool tournament, raffle drawing and golf tourney are some of the ways the Lyle Area Cancer Auction is diversifying its fund-raising efforts.

There are also horseshoe and darts tournaments. "We realized we couldn't always depend upon just one event, the auction, to raise money, so we have added other events during the year and leading up to the auction in January," Ziegler said.

Even a can drive helps.

This year, three separate can drives saw people delivery their recyclable aluminum beverage cans, which, in turn, were sold to raise $1,644.

Also, Ziegler points out the contributions of the new Kids Care, Too organization.

"The made paper flags and sold them for a donation and sold golf tees at the first golf tournament we had in August at Meadow Greens. Last year, they raised $1,300. They are an excited and enthusiastic group of kids and Teresea Slowinski does a great job of organizing them," said Ziegler.

Proceeds from the summertime golf tournament are being kept secret until the auction night, according to Cindy Ziegler, who has been at her husband's die for the fund-raising fun each January.

"In all, we now have seven events to raise money for the Eagles Cancer Telethon," Ziegler said. "We like to call the auction the 'seventh game of the World Series,' because it's so important to our efforts."

Pool tournament

The third annual pool tournament will be held at the Carpenter Community Center in nearby Carpenter, Iowa, Jan. 10-12, 2003.

In its first year, the tournament raised $6,500 and last year, it raised $17,500.

What do organizers Michelle Douglas and Tanya Cook have planned for the 2003 pool tournament?

"We're adding a seniors tournament this time around," said Douglas, so we expect more participation. The deadline to enter is Dec. 20," Douglas said.

Last January, four teams from Lamont, Iowa, drove all the way to Carpenter, Iowa to participate, because a friend had died of cancer.

Touched by volunteers

Last year, over 1,500 items were auctioned; many were rebid multiple times, thanks to the efforts of volunteer auctioneers.

Organizers are collecting donations for the January 2003 auction. Only new or hand-crafted items are accepted. Those interested can call 325-2571 for more information.

Volunteers began soliciting north Iowa and southern Minnesota businesses this weekend for donations.

One of the stalwarts of the annual auction is "Tiny" Johnson, a Carpenter, Iowa civic leader, businessman and auctioneer, whose wife, Lucille, died two years ago of cancer. his sons, Joe and Tim, are committee volunteers this year.

"We're all fighting for a cure," Johnson said. "Cancer has probably touched everybody in some way. Today, we all have a relative or know somebody with cancer. My lie, Lucille, lived with it for 19 years before she died."

Next month, the fund-raising will begin again to touch those who have been touched by cancer.

Is it any wonder, it took a little longer than usual for prayers to be said on Thanksgiving Day in all the homes, hospitals, research centers and clinics touched by the Lyle Area Cancer Auction.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at