Thursday, February 20, 2020
The Ratzloff family is one of the four families being honored at this year's From the Heart half Marathon. (Photos courtesy of From the Heart) Marcy Jo Fenske and familyThe Larson family (left to right: Braydn, Niki, Ellie, Nick and Kiya)

From the heart

Local organization honors local families

Cancer hides in dark crevices and doesn’t announce itself until many times, it’s too late. It’s a disease that doesn’t take a day off or a “breather,” but fights with every ounce of energy it has, 24/7/365.  It not only ravishes the body, but engages in a fight where the healing methods can be equally as brutal.

And it works overtime on the mind. The mind of the victim and the mind of the family. It has become a dark legend where people are afraid to speak its name. Although they are making great strides and have come a million miles in the last 10 years, cancer’s reputation precedes it.

This is a generation that must remain positive in the “good fight of faith” when battling this kind of Goliath. Polio was the monster of the 20th century and the headline of its eradication was a victory for mankind.

The hope is that the headline for cancer eradication would come in our lifetime before the lifetime of even one more soul is stolen.

“From The Heart” is a local organization that is not changing the world as a whole, but is changing the world of individuals here in our own backyard. This is an annual event that honors local families who are experiencing the physical, emotional and personal journey in the fight for their lives.

This week belongs to this organization and the families that it honors and the warriors that come along side of it to battle this sinister disease. You can run, you can walk, you can wheel and you can cheer this week at the ninth annual “From the Heart Run/Walk” in Owatonna.

After the cleanup from year eight, the organization has looked toward year nine. It has been formed not only to bring a renewed awareness to the fight, but also brings to light, families who are engaged in this war and has successfully created a support system for our own in Steele County and surrounding areas.

Beth Svenby who is the representative for the organization has said that this year’s fight for visibility is on track. “It is progressing great,” Svenby said. “We still are hoping for more participants for the race and want people to know that they can register right up until race time Saturday.”

The race itself begins at Lake Kohlmeier at 8 a.m. with the half-marathon and half-marathon relay. This is followed by the kids run which begins at 8:10. After the kids are well on their way, the 5K runners and walkers and wheelers will run at 8:30.

Registrations this week can be taken online and also in person at the spaghetti supper or right up until race time at Lake Kohlmeier.

“The spaghetti supper Friday night takes place from 4:30-8 p.m. and is open to the public,” said Svenby. “There will be food, a silent auction and even live entertainment by Mellotruck out of Waseca.”

The band is primarily a pop band, playing songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s and features Mike Mullen who is a relative of a former “From The Heart” featured family.

“The silent auction has over 100 baskets,” said Svenby. “There are Viking tickets, an i-Pad, an Echo, a Garmin watch and many other things.”

Svenby also said that you can donate items to the silent auction up until Thursday by bringing the item to either Lincoln or Washington elementary schools in Owatonna. You can also contact Nichole Engel at

Packet Pickup is at the spaghetti supper Friday, May 5, from 4:30-8:00 at Owatonna Junior High School (500 15th Street Northeast). At packet pickup you will get your gear, chip and race bib plus, enjoy a pre-race meal. Race-day packet pick up is also available at Lake Kohlmeier from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Race Results will be posted on the “From The Heart’ website, via Anderson Race Management shortly after the race.

There is still a need for volunteers for all activities. The need is great and many hands make light work. To volunteer, contact Beth Svenby at 456-8909 or send an email to

Pre-race Shirts available for sale at Washington Elementary or Profinium Bank in Owatonna.  $15 Adult, $10.00 Kids.   Tank Tops coming soon!

This years honored families include:

Nick Larson

Nick Larson was diagnosed with stage 4, Grade 4, clear cell, renal cell carcinoma (Kidney Cancer) with a 5-10% sarcomatoid differentiation in December 2015. He underwent surgery to remove his right kidney and right adrenal gland two days later. In March 2016, Nick experienced a couple of seizures which led to the discovery that the cancer had spread to his brain and lungs. Two weeks later he underwent a Gamma Knife procedure that was successful in treating the tumor in his brain. Nick has undergone months of treatment both at the U of M Medical Center in Minneapolis and Mayo Clinic in Rochester while fighting this disease. 

Matt Ratzloff

Matt Ratzloff graduated from Owatonna High School in 2013 and most recently from Winona State University in December 2016 with a degree in Law Enforcement. He started his Law Enforcement Skills Program in January 2017 and was actively participating up until he was diagnosed with mono Jan. 12, 2017. Matt made multiple trips to the doctor as his mono symptoms progressively got worse. On Jan. 25, 2017, Matt went to the Owatonna Hospital emergency room with a fever of 106 and was extremely weak. Doctors determined that he had severe pneumonia, he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit and subsequently transferred to Rochester Methodist Hospital as pathologists believed he had leukemia. A bone marrow test confirmed that Matt had Acute Myeloid leukemia (AML).

Marcy Jo Fenske

In July 2016 Marcy Jo Fenske was diagnosed with stage 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer) which had spread to levels I, II, and III of her lymph nodes. Following this diagnosis, she began a 20- week chemotherapy regimen and subsequent bilateral mastectomy. Radiation therapy and reconstructive surgery are planned for later in 2017.

Terri Grose

I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer Aug. 19. I went from being a pretty healthy and active person to someone with cancer. It was tough news to hear. I was about to start my 37th year teaching physical education at St. Mary's but instead I started my fight against cancer. I had pretty extensive surgery on the 29th of August and had a difficult recovery. My body didn't want to clot so I had over 20 units of blood pumped into me to keep me alive. The Dr.'s worked overtime for me that night and I am grateful. Three weeks after surgery I started chemo. I was told I would have 18 treatments, one treatment a week. It was a series of six 3 week cycles.

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944


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