18th annual event donates $55,000 for Wilms’ tumor research at Institute

 Nearly $900,000 now has been raised in 18 years by the annual Karl Tourney following Monday’s event that included a $55,000 donation for The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota to continue progress in researching Wilms’ tumor, a childhood cancer.

The 18th annual Karl Potach Memorial Golf Tournament drew 147 golfers to the Austin Country Club, where a post-tourney dinner and auction led to gifts made by the Karl Potach Foundation of $55,000 to The Hormel Institute and $10,000 to the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.

“Who would have thought a simple idea in 1998 would lead to nearly $900,000 being raised during 18 tourneys,” said Lance Pogones, the event’s founder and friend of Karl’s parents, Dr. Kurt and Brenda Potach.

Each year, the tournament honors the memory of Karl Potach, who passed away in 1997 at age 4 from a rare form of pediatric cancer called Wilms’ tumor, also known as nephroblastoma. Wilms’ tumor most often affects children ages 3 to 4, typically occurring in one of the kidneys.

Since 2008, The Hormel Institute and Karl Potach Foundation have worked together to jointly fund research on Wilms’ tumor in Karl’s hometown of Austin. With this year’s gift, the Karl Tourney now has donated about $372,000 overall to support Wilms’ tumor research at The Hormel Institute conducted in the research section led by Dr. Zigang Dong and Associate Director Dr. Ann M. Bode, who both expressed thanks at Monday’s dinner.

“Our researchers have made significant discoveries in the fight against Wilms’ tumor,” Dong said. “It shows the critical importance of funding cancer research, and we are deeply thankful to all who are involved with the Karl Tourney. Our goal is to preserve and extend lives, and we indeed commit our lives to this mission.”

The Austin community, Pogones said, amazes the Karl Tourney’s organizers more every year, including the hole sponsors, corporate sponsors, volunteers, golfers and dinner guests. Austin natives Jon Chaffee and Conrad Ray also conducted golf clinics as part of Monday’s event.

“They all go above and beyond to help make the day a special remembrance of Karl Potach,” he said. “Karl was only with us a few short years but his spirit, his smile and the sparkle in his eyes drive us to go a little further and help him make an impact for generations to follow.”