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Storm Cuts Cancer Walk Short; Tally Tops Record at $164,000 (2018-05-30)
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Milbank’s annual It Only Takes A Spark Cancer Walk once again broke a record this past weekend as the tally for funds raised in the past year came in at approximately $164,000. This total is likely to increase as additional funds are turned in by teams and other groups that contribute to the success of the event, according to organizers.

The cancer walk was staged in Lake Farley Park Friday, June 14, and started out with a warm and sunny evening. The event was well attended through the evening, but when a thunderstorm rolled in around midnight, organizers made the call to put safety first and ordered the teams to take down their campsites and head for home.

In addition to the usual fundraising activities at the 22nd cancer walk, Ann Tuchscherer, a member of the core committee, announced that Robert Schultz of Spring Branch, TX, a former Milbank resident and Milbank High School alumnus, donated $15,000 to this year’s walk. Monte Robinson of Milbank also presented the committee an additional $10,000 on behalf of a family member.

Schultz himself has been battling cancer. He recently reported to Tuchscherer that he is now cancer free, but he still has cancer-related health issues to resolve. Last year he stated that he had a few family members and friends who have benefitted from It Only Takes A Spark. He told the core committee, “It is nice to make a donation that goes back into a community that has done so much for so many.” This year’s larger donation was a celebration for gaining ground in Schultz’ fight against cancer.

Members of the public who attended the community picnic, the first of the walk’s activities, enjoyed a delicious cookout prepared and organized by the staff of Hartman’s Family Foods. They were assisted by Kiwanis Club members who served the meal.

After a brief prayer offered by Levi Waddell, youth pastor at Central United Methodist Church, members of the ten teams that participated in the fundraising were introduced during the parade of teams. The teams included the Milbank School District, Bulldogs Fighting Cancer; United Hardware, United Pride; Great Western Bank, Minions Fighting Cancer; St. Williams/Whetstone Insurance, The Cure Express; Milbank Avera Medical Group and Big Stone Therapies, the Marching Medics; Lewis Family Drug, Put Cancer on Ice; Poet, Fueling a Cure; Nani O’Hana, Big Stone City Bookends, and VFW, Walking Warriors. Each of these teams hosted a campsite with fundraising activities and food available to the public. Additionally, children once again enjoyed inflatables provided by JMS Rentals.

Hope Osborn, accompanied by Liz Schulte on the violin, sang the National Anthem. The National Guard honor guard was on hand for the lap of life which was led by Tye Schaffer, who was named as the cancer walk’s honorary chairman. Members of his family walked with him and were followed by numerous other cancer survivors who either walked the lap of life or rode the trolley that was provided by the City of Milbank.

After the lap of life and a balloon release, Paul and Jim Farrell encouraged higher bidding from the many attendees at the live auction which netted $4,155. In addition to auction items provided by the teams, the live auction included an embroidered lap quilt made by Ann Tuchscherer, two VIP tickets to the Farley Fest Country Concert and a queen-sized quilt donated by the Valley Piecemakers.

A silent auction offered further bidding opportunities to all attendees, and additional items were donated by Tuchscherer, Thrivent, United Hardware, Todd and Tessa Grabow and First Bank and Trust.

The Merchants Fighting Cancer, coordinated by Twin Valley Tire and Mike Mach, deserve recognition for their efforts in organizing the merchant ticket raffle, according to organizers. Annually, the Merchants Fighting Cancer offer many prizes, and with help from the teams, thousands of dollars are raised through raffle ticket sales for the walk. George Smith was again the top seller as he raised $3,450 by selling tickets. “As Smith is 88 years old, he showed that one is never too old to help others,” Tuchscherer commented. Smith’s granddaughter, Janelle Madsen, tracks the ticket sales at Twin Valley Tire.

After the raffle ticket winners had been drawn and announced, the luminaries were lit, and the luminary names were read. Adding to the walk’s total funds, more than 2,300 luminaries in honor or in memory of those who have had cancer lined the pathways of the park. The list of names included 1,162 honorees. Valley Queen assisted in the sales of luminaries and matched sales from employees and those made at the Heritage Center. The lighting of the way was followed by a fireworks display which was provided by Mark Popowski of Popper’s Fireworks, Don and Betty Mead of Betty’s Fireworks, and Roger and Irene McCulloch.

The walk concluded shortly after midnight as bad weather threatened the campers. Those who returned Saturday, June 15, at 8 a.m. enjoyed breakfast before cleaning up the park. Various awards will be presented at a wrap-up meeting scheduled for Monday, June 24, at the Milbank Visitor Center.

The total funds raised came from many sources throughout the year. In addition to team fundraising events, the campsites raised funds from food sales and games. The core committee raised funds by sponsoring a springtime Great Giveaway that featured a gun auction, a dessert auction and the distribution of over $5,000 in prizes.

Sponsorships added to the total, and memorials, donations, and Thrivent Choice dollars came in throughout the year. A Ladies Night event at Runnings and a change for change event sponsored by Hartman’s Family Foods made for a positive impact on the total. Jody Kuper, a Valley Queen employee, made a $1,500 donation through a Valley Queen charitable program, and Matt Scott gave a generous donation that was matched by State Auto. Additional contributions in varying amounts added to the record-breaking total for the year.

The activities for the cancer walk are coordinated by the core committee, which includes Aaron Anderson, Julie Landmark, Alex Pauli, Lynn Wientjes and Tuchscherer. “I encourage anyone who wants to continue the fight against cancer and help those affected by cancer in the greater Grant County area to form a team, sponsor a fundraising event, donate a memorial gift or join the core committee,” Anderson, core committee president, said. New teams are always welcome.

On behalf of the core committee, Tuchscherer added, “We sincerely appreciate and thank all the teams, volunteers, businesses and sponsors involved in this year’s fundraising efforts. It takes a great many generous people to have the successful cancer walk that has become a tradition in Grant County.” It Only Takes A Spark is currently providing financial assistance to more than 100 cancer patients in the greater Grant County area.

Donations to the cancer walk can be made online any time at, or they can be mailed to PO Box 105, Milbank, SD 57252.

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