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Runners, walkers, riders raise $50k for breast cancer survivors

Breast cancer survivors Sara Schultz, left, of Sleepy Eye; and Chiloe Kottke of Springfield, combined efforts to run 88.88 miles in eight days for the Walk a Mile fundraiser.

New Ulm and area breast cancer survivors and their supporters raised $50,000 for the Walk a Mi

le in Her Shoes 2020 breast cancer fundraiser Oct. 1-8.

The virtual event included teams of people, individuals and members of New Ulm Crossfit and Power Haus Yoga who even did fundraisers on their own, and many businesses and individuals who pitched in, said breast cancer survivor Amber Melby of New Ulm.

The fundraiser was part of The B The Light organization, created by Melby. She created B The Light to honor her aunt Brenda Plinke, an 18-year metastatic breast cancer survivor who outlived the amount of time doctors told her she had left to live, by far.

“We had a lot of fun and support. We hoped to raise $25,000. We were excited to raise $50,000,” Amber said about the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.

Breast cancer survivors Sara Schultz of Sleepy Eye and Chiloe Kottke of Springfield ran a combined total of 88.88 miles in eight days. Sara received the first HOPE Getaway and plans to travel with her husband Tyler to Peru and climb Rainbow Mountain, a lifelong dream of her’s that B the Light provided.

Sara Schauer of New Ulm ran a 5k (3.1 miles) daily for eight days to honor a friend and breast cancer survivor Andrea Meyer.

Sara said she and her friend Chiloe ran most of their 88.88 miles on the Sleepy Eye Lake Trail.

“We ran 88.88 miles to signify one in eight women affected by breast cancer,” said Schultz. “It was a good way to make memories with friends and re-visit your cancer journey. Everybody that donated $50 or more will get their name shouted out at Rainbow Mountain, which is 17,060 feet high.”

Four other breast cancer survivors were chosen to win trips, but their plans are on hold right now.

Despite not being what she described as “a runner,” Sara Schauer of New Ulm ran a 5k daily for eight days to honor her friend and breast cancer survivor Andrea Meyer of Springfield.

“I’ve always been concerned and supportive of breast cancer survivors,” said Schauer. “I went to appointments with Andrea. I was with her for the highs and lows. Everybody knows someone who has breast cancer while still going to work and raising families.”

Photo by Jon Carter Photography Amber Melby of New Ulm poses with a photo of herself while she received chemotherapy for breast cancer. Melby created B the Light, a non-profit organization in honor of her aunt Brenda Plinke, an 18-year metastatic breast cancer survivor.

Schauer said it was impressive to see how impressive people’s feats were.

“People got up at 4 a.m. or sometimes ran at 10 p.m.,” said Schauer. “I really think what Amber is doing to raise funds really hit home and resonated with me.”

Melby said since fundraising efforts are not focusing on HOPE Getaway trips this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group is focusing on other ways to help breast cancer survivors.

“We want to connect survivors with other survivors so we’ve creating Facebook and instagram website,” Amber said. “We’re also helping families find support. We’re seeing younger women, often with young kids, diagnosed with breast cancer. We’re partnering with the New Ulm Wellness Collective, helping women do things their insurance may not cover like acupuncture, yoga classes, counseling, massage and using essential oils.”

Melby is now five years past her breast cancer treatment. On Monday, she completed a New Ulm Crossfit workout.

CrossFit New Ulm works out to raise funds for B the Light and in honor of the late Eden “Bliss” Kalk who lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 40.

“When you are 10 years without breast cancer coming back, you’re considered cured,” Melby said. “Every year you survive is a blessing. I enjoy sharing the message about my aunt who lived so much longer than doctors said she would. It gives people hope.”

The New Ulm High School volleyball team is hosting Volley for a Cure night Thursday, Oct. 29. Proceeds will go to B the Light. For more information, visit bthelightinfo.org. A free e-book on nutrition care for breast cancer patients is available at nationalbreastcancer.org.

New Ulm breast cancer survivor Betsy Pieser talked about the benefits of cancer fundraising organizations.

“It’s great to have organizations with a local presence for people to be involved,” said Pieser. “We are fortunate that the New Ulm area has the New Ulm Medical Center as well as passionate people involved in activities like Be the Light, the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life, and others. Knowing your donations are affecting and reaching people in your own community really puts a face on your donations.”

Pieser said breast cancer is no longer your grandmother’s disease. It’s happening to people of all ages.

“You are your own best advocate,” said Pieser. “Asking questions of your health provider, knowing your family history and being proactive about your health are essential for women.”

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