On the Road: Benefit for cancer research planned

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 10, 2003

Eunice Coughlin of Blooming Prairie wants to put Blooming Prairie on the map of little towns that are able to hold big benefits for cancer research. Coughlin is a survivor of uterine and colon cancer and lost a daughter, Darla Bauer, to cancer. She has a grandson, Michael Bauer who also has had this disease and is now doing fine.

Because she has been so personally been affected by cancer, Coughlin is holding her third annual Cancer Benefit at the Blooming Prairie Servicemen's Club on Saturday, May 17. The doors for the benefit open at 3 p.m. with an auction at 4 p.m. She is currently taking donations for items to be auctioned off. Coughlin has sewn a couple of quilts to be auctioned off.

She and her family are well known for their baking expertise. They will be having a bake sale with homemade breads, pies and cookies. A luncheon of barbecued sandwiches, bars, homemade donuts and coffee and pop will be served at the benefit. Chances will be sold at the door for four half of hogs. After the auction and the bake sale is over, Sonic Eclipse will provide old time and modern dance music.

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Coughlin started the first cancer benefit in Blooming Prairie herself and she networked her extended family to help. This year three women in town have stepped up to help make this the largest benefit yet. Pam Folkens, Jennifer Milton and Karen Thoen have been meeting weekly with Coughlin to plan this event.

They have expanded the fund-raising to include other events beside the afternoon and evening at the Blooming Prairie Servicemen's Club. Saturday May 10, Blooming Prairie has their annual citywide spring garage sales. Milton and Thoen will be having a pie and ice cream social at the First Lutheran Church in Blooming Prairie from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with all the proceeds going towards the Cancer Benefit. The women approached Mayor H. Peterson to proclaim the week of May 11 through the 17 as Cancer Awareness Week in Blooming Prairie and this will be done too.

Folkens and Milton are sisters and they became involved with helping Coughlin, because their father, John Christenson had lung cancer and now well. Folkens, has done her research on the disease.

"Rarely do people survive lung cancer as there is no feeling in the lung so there are no symptoms for the victim," Folkens said. "My dad found out he had lung cancer because he went to get checked for something else. He had written himself off when he found out he had cancer, and he is still alive."

Folkens has had fund-raising experience and Milton approached her after last year's benefit to rally around Coughlin.

"I enjoy doing things for other people," Folkens said. "I have had great response from all the people I have approached to donate to this benefit. I have not heard from anyone. Cancer affects all of us. It is the number two leading cause of death in America, and one and four deaths are from cancer. It is a rotten disease and not at all picky of whom it chooses."

Thoen lost both her parents to cancer and her husband, Mark, has had cancer too. Her daughter, Kristin, an eighth grader, will be holding a cookie sale at the Blooming Prairie High School with proceeds going to this cause. The Blooming Prairie grade school is collecting aluminum cans to raise money.

"We will be honoring those that died of cancer and survivors with a candle light vigil the evening of the benefit. Lavender colored candles can be purchased at the door and loved one's names of whom the candle is for will be posted on a board at the Servicemen's Club. We will have lavender ribbons tied all over town the week of May 11 through the 17 for Cancer Awareness Week," Folkens said.

In June, Coughlin's grandson, Brandon Helgeson will be holding an event in Rochester called the Battle of the Bands with proceeds going to this benefit.

Coughlin is currently accepting donations for this benefit. Anyone wishing to help out or wants more information can call (507) 583-7822. All proceeds are donated to the Eagles Cancer Telethon. Last year Coughlin raised $6,438.

"Every little bit helps and knowing that this money will help someone with cancer is why we do this. I want to help others as I have been affected. I carry on my life as always since having this disease," Coughlin said.

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at :mailto:newsroom@austindailyherald.com