‘Bliss Stock’ to celebrate, benefit Bliss Kalk

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Members of the Bliss Stock committee, friends and family in Turner Hall Park. Pictured left to right: Lori Mathiowetz; Penny Mathiowetz, 1; Andrea Gehrke; Elaina Brown, 8; Eleanore “Ella” Kalk, 5; Dan Kalk; Eden “Bliss” Kalk; Josh Kalk; Lincoln Kalk, 3; Catie Bushard and Emily Korbel.

NEW ULM — A little of 1969 will be coming to New Ulm this Father’s Day as the first of an annual music festival raising money for Eden “Bliss” Kalk.

Starting at noon Sunday, June 17, Bliss Stock will fill the Turner Hall lawn with music, activities and families the headlining band Church of Cash wraps things up around 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

“It is all family-focused, there is nothing about it that is not family (oriented),” Committee Member Andrea Gehrke said. “It is a suggested getaway for Father’s Day.”

We have essentially created Wood Stock for families,” Committee Member Lori Mathiowetz added.

Along with a provisional line-up of eight local musicians, families will be able to enjoy a live auction starting at 5:15 p.m., a silent auction closing by 5 p.m. and a raffle including a year’s worth of eggs or half a hog.

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Eden “Bliss” Kalk was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer last October. She stands with a bouquet of dandalions in Turner Hall Park, where Bliss Stock will be held.

Kids can look forward to a bounce house, balloon sculptures, face painting and more ticketed events. Tickets cost $1.

There will be a booth for purchasing T-shirts printed with “follow your Bliss,” Bliss Bulbs and direct donations, or “Bliss Bills” that will help pay for daily bills of the Kalks.

Bliss was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer last October that had metastasized to her liver.

After her sister, Catie Bushard, tested positive on a BRCA2 genetic test Bliss decided to get her own done.

A positive BRCA2 test indicates an greater risk of certain cancers due to mutations in the BRCA2 gene, which produces tumor-suppressing proteins, according to the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) website.

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey The Kalk family. Pictured lef to right: Josh Kalk; Eleanor “Ella” Kalk, 5; Lincoln Kalk, 3 and Eden “Bliss” Kalk.

The test itself does not detect cancer but will inform a patient of increased risk.

Bliss, who lost both her mother, Debrah Petran, at 52 years old and her grandmother, Anne Vochko, at 32 to cancer, went in for a mammogram — which called for further testing.

Then she went in for a breast biopsy and PET scan and the news got worse. “It was quite a month,” Bliss said.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester gave Bliss a 10 percent chance of survival beyond five years. Currently she is receiving immunotherapy treatment at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois.

Immunotherapy is a broad category of treatments that use the human immune system to fight cancer. Generally, the process works by alerting the body to rapidly-mutating cancer cells so they can be destroyed.

Bliss earned her predominant nickname when she was just a baby. Her sister Catie had trouble pronouncing Bliss’ middle name Elizabeth, instead saying “Elizabless”.

“The first name I remember writing down was B-L-I-S-S,” Bliss said. “I did not understand my name was Eden until I got a little bit older and I was embarrassed of it when I was younger.”

Bliss is a masseuse at the New Ulm Wellness Collective, though her treatment schedule has somewhat impeded her ability to work. One of her specialties is Ashiatsu Massage, a Japanese technique using feet.

“They are clean and sterile, scrubbed clean and sterilized before we start,” Bliss said. “It is long, gliding strokes with the foot. I am using one foot at a time, keeping my body weight off of the client.”

Bliss Stock will raise money for Bliss’ family this year, but the committee hopes to turn it into a regular fundraiser for anyone in need.

Currently it is working with the Sertoma Club to make donations tax deductible.

Part of the goal behind the music festival is to try and create an atmosphere of generous love and compassion, after Bliss’ own character.

“It is kind of modeled after (Bliss) as a person, this is just who she is,” Lori said. “You can ask anyone, anybody in the community who knows Bliss or who has had a massage by Bliss. The name did not stick because Catie could not say it, the name stuck because it really does embody who she is as a person and how you feel a massage with her.”

The committee is still looking for volunteers and donations for the auctions and more are still welcome.

Visit blissstock.org to stay up-to-date on what will be at Bliss Stock. The event can also be found on Facebook. Bliss’ treatment is also recorded on her gofundme.com page titled “Bliss Heals.”

“I am still in awe of this whole thing,” Bliss said. “These guys, really, it is just the collaboration of the Bliss Stock team that has made it so awesome.”

Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at ccummiskey@nujournal.com.