Tired of Lyle Area Cancer Auction

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Truth be told, I’m getting tired of writing about the Lyle Area Cancer Auction.

It’s the same old same-old all the time.

Crazy wonderful people from north Iowa and southern Minnesota get together each January, lock themselves in Lyle American Legion Post No. 105 and raise money for cancer research.

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They spend outrageous sums of money on items they don’t need.

They eat, drink and be merry from Friday night to early Sunday morning.

They watch a parade of their friends step forward and hand over checks for more money from other fund-raising events held during the previous 12 months.

They endure the antics of Larry Ricke, that are enough to make his mother Betty Fisher blush.

When it’s all over, they climb aboard an Austin Transportation Service bus for a trip to Rochester, where they appear on the 5th District Eagles Telethon and hand over a six-figure check to KTTC’s Tom Overlie, That, in turn, makes Bob Callier, a grown man, who has been collecting money for the Eagles’ cancer research fund-raiser for 53 years, cry on live television.

Then, they return home and hold a potluck thank you supper for volunteers at the Legion Post and announce they made a mistake and change the amount they collected to an even higher figure. Everybody goes crazy again, clapping, whistling, hugging, hoorahing and shedding more tears.

I’m telling you, there ought to be a law.

They held their latest annual volunteer appreciation supper at Post No. 105 last Sunday night (Jan. 30) and filled the place.

It was like a family reunion.

Dona Ziegler and Kathleen Helgeson took seats up front and I sat at a table with Nathan Crouch, Bob Fisher and Louis “Tip” Taylor. The latter is 90-years-old and has more stories to tell than Crouch and Fischer combined.

Nearby was Fred Bissen, who will celebrate another birthday – 92, I think – on Valentine’s Day, when another famous American celebrates his.

Randy and Tami Fett were there. Their son, Tyler, is getting married this weekend.

Jerry Sampson told me about a new auto-steer tractor guidance system he is marketing. Says it works for he and his brother, Jim.

Bryce Haugland said his dad, Ron, is doing well, the Lyle First Responders are taking care of rescue business and his son has joined the ranks of LACA volunteers.

Food? There was more than enough to go around and all of it good. In fact, there was so much food; they sent left-overs home with some guests. Thank you, Mrs. Fisher. The meatloaf and scalloped potatoes were terrific.

Larry Ricke survived heckling from Gary and Cindy Ziegler to serve as master of ceremonies for the program that followed.

The Hormel Institute sent a delegation of Dr. Ted Hinchcliffe, a section leader, Gail Dennison, director of marketing and development, and Tim Ruzek, public relations.

The Hormel Institute is one of the beneficiaries of the 5th District Eagles’ generosity with Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota Hospital Cancer Research Unit.

Callier was there – he always is – and brought along Mike and Theresa Chapman, who are replacing him as telethon administrators for the Eagles. I knew it would take more than one person to do that.

The MC tried to thank everyone who helped make 2010 such a successful year of fund-raising. It took him a while.

Prominent were Russ and Theresa Slowinski. The couple supplied lists of the various fund-raising totals.

The auction raised  $45,508.50, the largest single total. Tracy Schilling’s Halfway To Cancer Bash collected $4,269, the Carpenter, Iowa pool tournament collected $24,500, and the Harley Davidson motorcycle raffle netted $23,600 and beer tasting accounted for $223.60. I think that’s a figure that could stand improvement next January and I am willing to do my part.

True to form, the MC announced new fund-raising events expected to help the volunteers set new fund-raising records.

Kathy Wichmann was there for Thrivent Financial Services and announced Red, White and Pink Day Feb. 26 at OakPark Mall in Austin. It will benefit LACA and the American Heart Association.

It involves male participants recruited with a donation to model women’s clothes.

Guess who was the first man to be volunteered? Larry Ricke, of course. I’m guessing his wife, Cindy, plunked down $10 to embarrass her husband … if that is possible.

Ricke presented a new check to the 5th District Eagles’ representatives for $138,000 or $8,000 more than they pledged after the LACA fun and games 2 weeks ago.

That pushes the grand total raised in over 3 decades of cancer research fund-raising to $1.24-million, which is probably another mistake and the actual total is a lot higher.

“We’ve got to keep this thing going,” Larry Ricke said of the fund-raising frenzy that seemingly goes on 24/7 in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. “Everybody has been touched by cancer.”

I know it sounds mean, but I am indeed getting tired of writing about the Lyle Area Cancer Auction. That’s because I’m running out of superlatives to describe how the human spirit is alive and well in Lyle.

It’s unbelievable.