COYOTES FOR CANCER
Heads were shaking in disbelief as word got out that the third annual Coyotes for Cancer fundraiser on Saturday, Jan. 4, raised $28,000 with the beneficiary being the Blooming Prairie Cancer Group.
"Today is not about the hunting; it is about coming together as a community to remember our friends and loved ones who have been touched by cancer," said Elliott Herdina, co-chairman of the event with Craig Anderson.
"It's pretty overwhelming to see this support for the BP Cancer Group," Herdina added.
Gail Anderson and Dustin Doocy were also key organizers for the special fundraising event.
The $28,000 total eclipses last year's record amount of $25,000. The first year of the hunt brought in over $18,000.
"We had a great turnout for the hunt and for the party at the Cue Company; everybody is so supportive when it comes to helping those affected by the Big C word," remarked Anderson.
Funds raised with this event are now channeled to the BP Cancer Group's Community Fund.
Monies from this fund are designated for gas cards, hospital parking passes, utility bills and to VISA cards for any other tip of help needed by those touched by cancer, said Cheri Krejci, treasurer of the BP Cancer Group.
She said over $12,000 from the Community Fund has been given in the past three months to area people touched by cancer.
Krejci, a cancer survivor herself, was emotionally touched by the efforts of the Coyotes 'Fur' Cancer, saying, "I just can't believe they beat last year's record."
The whole coyote hunting fundraising idea was hatched by Herdina and Anderson three years ago when they came up with a novel idea to raise funds for the fight against cancer.
Herdina acknowledged that this fundraiser no doubt is one of a kind in the nation. "The results of these three events just shows how generous Blooming Prairie area people are," commented Herdina.
Hunters went out in groups on a mostly sunny day. Groups ranged in size from 4-12 hunters and spotters. An estimated 7-8 groups accounted for 50-plus hunters and spotters. They came from Blooming Prairie, Geneva, Kenyon, Owatonna, Hayfield and surrounding areas.
"We were their eyes," said four area women who were spotters on the hunt during the day. Posing happily for a photo following the hunt were Amy Simon, Blooming Prairie; Kenzie Schroeder, Owatonna, Kate Schroeder, Owatonna and Emma Sorteberg, Anoka.
Following the daylight hunt, hunters and spotters gathered at the Cue Company around 6 p.m. for an evening of celebration, fun and excitement. The crowd at the Cue Company was estimated at 150-plus.
Before the door prizes and auction items were announced, hunters and spotters were asked to go outside for a group photo. "Let's do it in five minutes," Herdina challenged the group. He said it took eight minutes last year and that was for nine coyote pelts. This year, 15 pelts were brought to the Cue Company.
Travis Simon was one of the many hunters on the day and he took his two sons, Chase, 5 and Parker, 7 along on the hunt. "These boys want to hunt when they grow up," Travis related.
Favorable weather this year made organizers forget about last year's stormy conditions.
No license is required to hunt coyotes since they are considered varmints. Furs will be sold anywhere from $7 to $45, Herdina says.
Hunters use a variety of rifles including bolt action .223 caliber and .22-250 caliber. Semi automatics are the new craze, Herdina said.
Collette and Tony Lea of the Cue Company donated food for the event. Collette prepared the three soups for the night: potato and ham, chili and chicken wild rice.
The BP Cancer Group made bars and also provided meat and cheese trays for those attending the fundraiser.
"We had no financial goal in mind, anything more than last time is a bonus," said Herdina.
This year's event featured many door prizes, 30 raffle items, five live auction items and seven more guns given to raffle winners.
Galen Peterson was the experienced auctioneer for the evening. He even wore his auctioneer's cowboy hat as he promoted bids on live auction items.
First live auction item was a picnic table given by Bill Brumm of Bear Tracks. It was won by Connie Trom.
Bo Zwiener, 13, was the winner of one of the guns. He also helped sell 50-50 tickets for the fundraiser.
Pat and Julie Noble won a table made by Jeff Anderson. "There were lots of out-of-towners who won prizes," Herdina said.
Cancer Group volunteers Krejci and Connie Trom thanked everyone who donated prizes and those who attended the event. "You guys have stepped up beyond belief," said Trom, touched by cancer with the loss of her husband Darrell.
"Our town is so strong when it comes to fighting cancer," Herdina said. "We just thank everyone who has donated to this cause," he added.