Continued Support/Team Registration Deadline Approaching

The It Only Takes A Spark Cancer Walk generated over $100,000 last year, and this year’s core committee and cancer walk teams need your help to have another successful fundraising year. There are currently 11 teams participating in the 2015 cancer walk fundraising, and more are welcome. The deadline to register a team is January 31, 2015, which is fast approaching.

Cheryl Pauli, a member of the St. William’s Cancer Walk team, has been on a team since the first year of the walk. When asked why she has continued to participate, she said her reason has changed over the years. “The first year I did it because it was new,” she explained. “Then our team won the Spirit Award, and that motivated us to continue.” As time has passed, the cancer walk has become more personal and her passion. She lost a good friend and co-worker, LaVerna Schuler, to cancer, which gave her further reason to continue participating. “The cancer walk is people helping people. It’s big!” Pauli exclaimed. Pauli herself was diagnosed with cancer this past summer and is currently undergoing treatment. “I now know more than ever how important the cancer walk is,” she commented.

The cancer walk began in June, 1998, as Relay for Life. Fourteen teams raised between $35,000 and $40,000 for the American Cancer Society. The following year the Relay for Life was replaced by It Only Takes A Spark, and it grossed $28,200. Fifty percent of the funds went to the cancer sector of Grant County Heart and Cancer, forty percent went to state and/or national cancer research and 10% was used for operating funds and cancer prevention/awareness.

Over the years, It Only Takes A Spark has continued to grow and has raised larger amounts of money with the largest amount, $104,000, raised in 2012. The distribution of the funds has evolved into 70 percent of the proceeds being used for local cancer patients in the greater Grant County area. These funds are allocated by a disbursement board comprised of Dorothy Larson, Karla Wellnitz, Steph Bagaus, Joyce DeWald, Miranda Cantine and Ruth Gulck.

The allocated funds are used for cancer-related medications, gas cards for transportation to medical facilities, lodging expenses related to cancer treatment and some hospital and clinic expenses. A young parent of three, Aaron Anderson who has been a recipient of cancer walk funds has responded to the importance of the cancer walk. He said, “Assistance from the cancer walk allowed me not to stress out on the financial part of everything as cancer itself is stressful enough. The assistance allowed me to feel more financially stable.”

The core committee uses the remaining 30 percent of the funds in different ways each year. It has been used for purchasing cancer-related equipment for use in the Milbank hospital, donations to cancer research, assisting the cancer support group and operating expenses for future walks.

Those who have been diagnosed with cancer can apply for financial help. The applications, which are required yearly, are available at the area clinics, the hospital and the pharmacies and from Steph Bagaus of Interlakes Community Action located in the courthouse. Currently, 90 applicants receive financial assistance through these funds which is approximately 30% higher than just the previous year and three times more than the number served seven years ago in 2007. Of these 90 patients, 61 percent live in Milbank, 11 percent live in Big Stone City, eight percent in Twin Brooks, five percent in Stockholm, four percent in Corona, four percent in the Revillo area and four percent in LaBolt. The remaining four percent live in other small area communities.

How can the public help guarantee the continued success of this phenomenal community service? Consider forming a cancer walk team. The number of teams has decreased through the years while the money raised has increased. Remember the adage, “Many hands make light work.” Youth groups, school groups, neighborhoods, businesses—anyone who is interested in helping those afflicted with cancer can form a team.

Consider sponsoring a cancer walk activity. Consider attending and supporting the fundraising opportunities provided by the cancer walk teams. Pray for the continued success of Cancer Walk 2015. Finally, consider becoming a core committee member in 2015.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in South Dakota. One in every five deaths in South Dakota in 2009 was caused by cancer. Each day four South Dakotans died from cancer in 2009. In that same year there were 36 new cases in Grant County, down from an average of 42 in 2005-2009.

For further information on starting a team or assisting the It Only Takes a Spark Cancer Walk, contact any of the following core committee members Angie Johnson, Aaron Anderson, Amanda Cummins, Matt Scott or Ann Tuchscherer. You can email us at or by our mailing address – It Only Takes A Spark, PO Box 105, Milbank, SD 57252. We are also on Facebook. If you have any questions regarding the importance of It Only Takes A Spark, please don’t hesitate to contact the committee.

– It Only Takes A Spark Press Release recently published in the December 10, 2014 issue of the Grant Count Review.