Supermarket helps with cancer benefit

Published 9:29 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gail Dennison, director of public relations and development at The Hormel Institute; Todd Hepler, store director at the Austin Hy-Vee; and Brenda Potach, mother of cancer victim Karl Potach, stand by butterfly-themed T-shirts at the kickoff of a Karl R. Potach foundation fundraiser at Hy-Vee. Proceeds raised through donations and T-shirt sales will go toward cancer research. Kevin Coss/

Grocery shoppers picking up the week’s rations Tuesday noticed a small change in Hy-Vee employees: they were all wearing yellow butterfly shirts.

The shirts, which are on sale at the supermarket, are part of a fundraiser for the Karl R. Potach Foundation to support cancer research. Part of the proceeds will go to The Hormel Institute, with the other parts going toward the Mayo Clinic’s Pediatric Cancer Research and the University of Minnesota’s Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

“The Hormel Institute is deeply grateful to the Carl R. Potach Foundation, the Potach family and all of their volunteers — in particular, Lance and Snow Pogones, who started the tournament — who worked so hard on the fundraiser,” said Gail Dennison, director of public relations and development with The Hormel Institute.

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She added that the Potash family’s contributions to cancer research make progress possible and will help other families, too.

“For the Potash family and their friends to remember Carl this way is a blessing for everyone,” she said.

Karl Potach succumbed to a tumor in 1997 at the age of 4. The Potach family has since raised almost half a million dollars for cancer research, according to Todd Hepler, store director at the Austin Hy-Vee.

“We’re going to be wearing butterfly T-shirts,” Hepler said. “Our goal is to raise $5,000 between now and Aug. 20.”

According to the Karl R. Potach Foundation’s website, butterflies symbolize the end of Karl’s struggle against cancer. In his final weeks, he kept two cocoons in a jar and watched as butterflies emerged and flew away. The day before he passed, Karl told his grandmother he would soon be a butterfly as well.

Along the way, Hy-Vee will hold special events that hold the butterfly theme, including a butterfly-shaped pancake feed, where $5 gets a customer all the pancakes they can eat.

The fundraiser, which is new this year, goes until the annual golf tournament on Aug. 20.

“Hy-Vee has been part of the tournament since the very beginning,” said Hepler, adding the grocer has provided supplies and food to support the tournament.