Blooming Prairie Cancer Group makes $15,000 gift toward 2016 initiative’s $200,000 goal

Blooming Prairie Cancer Group

Leaders with the Blooming Prairie Cancer Group present on Tuesday a $15,000 donation to Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, to support breast cancer research. The gift counts toward the $200,000 fundraising goal for the 6th annual Paint the Town Pink initiative. Pictured (left to right) are Gail Dennison, Director of Development & Public Relations for The Hormel Institute; Jennifer Milton of Blooming Prairie Cancer Group; Dr. Zigang Dong; and Cheri Krejci of Blooming Prairie Cancer Group.

 Blooming Prairie has made a significant gift just before Christmas to the Paint the Town Pink initiative to support The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota’s breast cancer research.

On Tuesday, the Blooming Prairie Cancer Group presented The Hormel Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong with a $15,000 donation raised from the organization’s various efforts throughout the year. A majority of the group’s annual fundraising goes to the 5th District Eagles Cancer Telethon that provides research funding to The Hormel Institute, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center and the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Cheri Krejci and Jennifer Milton delivered the donation on behalf of the Blooming Prairie Cancer Group. The gift will go 100 percent into cutting-edge breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute and count toward the $200,000 fundraising goal set for the 6th annual Paint the Town Pink initiative that will run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 14 in Austin but has events throughout the year in numerous communities in the area.

Blooming Prairie now joins Adams and Brownsdale as communities outside of Austin that each raise more than $10,000 annually for the Paint the Town Pink initiative.

Numerous PTTP events already are geared up to help raise support this winter for The Hormel Institute’s cutting-edge breast cancer research.

Details on many PTTP events recently have been finalized, including for the 4th annual Plunging for Pink polar plunge Jan. 30 at Austin’s East Side Lake. Attracting nearly 250 plungers last year, Plunging for Pink’s website – – has been updated and is ready for signups. This year’s post-plunge festivities will be at the Austin VFW Club with live music. In 2015, Plunging for Pink was the top PTTP fundraiser, raising nearly $59,000.

Tickets remain available for the 6th annual Austin Bruins’ Paint the Rink Pink hockey game set for Feb. 6 vs. the Coulee Region Chill at Riverside Arena. Every PTRP game has been a sellout crowd of nearly 2,000 since it started in 2011, and the Bruins have raised more than $152,000 in five years through the PTRP game and its popular post-game pink jersey auction.

A long-time fundraiser for The Hormel Institute also will return in support of the PTTP initiative with new organizers. The Fishing for a Cure ice fishing contest is set for 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 13 at Austin’s East Side Lake, with Austin couple Glenn and Babs Newman leading the event. Long-time organizers Jim Nelson and Duane Smith wanted to pass the contest on to new leaders.

To date, these are the PTTP events scheduled for 2016:

  • 23 – Hoot & Ole’s Bean Bag Tourney
  • 23 weekend – Adams Paint the Town Pink
  • 24 – Canvas for a Cure fundraiser at Eagles Club
  • 28 – Austin High girls basketball’s pink game
  • 29 – Austin High boys basketball’s pink game
  • 30 – Snowmobile Speed Run at East Side Lake
  • 30 – Plunging for Pink polar plunge at East Side Lake
  • 30 – Rose Creek Paint the Town Pink – bean bag tourney, vintage sled run, more.
  • 1-5 – Ellis Middle School’s cancer education week as part of PTTP.
  • 4 – Austin High wrestling’s pink match
  • 5 – PTTP Business Expo at Home Federal Bank
  • 5 – First Farmers & Merchants Bank serving pink cookies
  • 5-7 – Matchbox Children’s Theatre presents “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” at Paramount Theatre.
  • 6 – Austin Bruins’ Paint the Rink Pink hockey game at Riverside Arena
  • 7 – Dad’s Belgian Waffle Breakfast at the Austin Eagles Club
  • 10 – Caregiver Appreciation Day
  • 13 – Fishing for a Cure ice fishing contest at East Side Lake
  • 14 – Austin YMCA’s ALL Cancer Colors 5K walk/run at the Mower County Fairgrounds
  • 14 – Smashing Cancer Demolition Derby at the Mower County Fairgrounds

For the 2015 Paint the Town Pink – which was the 5th annual initiative – about $191,000 overall was raised in Austin and nearby communities, including Adams, Brownsdale and Rose Creek, to go 100 percent directly into cutting-edge breast cancer research projects at The Hormel Institute. That overall fundraising amount put Paint the Town Pink at nearly $554,000 raised over five years for breast cancer research at The Hormel Institute.

This year’s Paint the Town Pink ambassadors are Kelly Joseph and Darci Buchan – two Austin women who are friends and each personally affected by breast cancer. Joseph was diagnosed in July 2013 and now is cancer free. Buchan was diagnosed in February 2014 and is undergoing treatments.

For all details on PTTP events, go online to The Hormel Institute’s website – – and click on the PTTP link at the top or go to Paint the Town Pink’s Facebook page at

Funds raised in 2011 and 2012 through PTTP went toward acquiring technology to accelerate breast cancer research. Donations the past three years have been distributed as “seed” grants through an application process open only to researchers at The Hormel Institute for new breast cancer projects. These funds greatly help researchers try out new ideas and gather preliminary data to assist them in applying for major research grants.

Breast cancer, which predominantly affects women but also is diagnosed in men in about 2,000 new cases annually – is the most common type of cancer in the United States when excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers and the second-leading cause of death by cancer, with more than 40,000 deaths estimated per year.

Anyone who has ideas or is interested in participating in the 2016 PTTP is encouraged to contact Kathi Finley at 507-460-0259 or by email at