Community plans colorful support for Aufderheide

NEW ULM – Last year hundreds of New Ulm residents took part in the Drew’s Crew 5K Colorfest Run to support Drew Aufderheide and his struggle with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Next, Saturday the crew is at it again.

The 5K Colorfest Run/Walk begins at 11a.m. in Harman Park. Along the route runners will be doused with colored powders. By the end of the run participants will resemble a rainbow. This colorful celebration is to raise funds for Drew Aufderheide, a personal trainer at Anytime Fitness.

Aufderheide was diagnosed with CML in March of 2015, when he was the manager of Anytime Fitness. This form of leukemia is relatively rare, with only 5,000 people effected annually. With no cure, Aufderheide is forced to take special medication which costs at least $10,000 a month or more. Health insurance and special cancer grants covers some of the costs, but Aufderheide requires additional support.

Aufderheide has also begun to see a palliative care doctor to treat side effects of his treatment. This requires additional medications to improve Drew’s quality of life. Clinic trials continue to develop better medication with less severe side effects. Drew is currently on his second CML medication. The first version of the medication stopped working. The switch happen August of last year. Drew’s been on this new medication for year, and its better than the previous drug, but it is reassuring to know an alternative is in development.

Last years Colorfest proved to be very successful with around 400 registered runners and dozens volunteered to assist with the auction, food stand, and the color station. The outpouring of support from the community was overwhelming for Drew, saying her could not find the words to express his thanks.

“I get people every day coming up to me telling their church is praying for me,” he said. “I am really grateful for that.”

Aufderheide’s life has gone through a tremendous shift over the last year and a half, which effects much his life. As a trainer at Anytime Fitness, physical health is significant part of Aufderheide’s life.

“People see me as healthy and strong, but some days I just put that face on,” Drew said. Recently his wife Val needed to pick him up from the gym because Drew could not physically walk on his own due to joint pain.

Aufderheide typically tries to keep these struggles private, choosing to stay at home if the pain is too great, but his condition may change at moment’s notice.

“Its a day by day thing,’ he said. “Today I feel fantastic, but ask me in an hour and that might change.”

Drew’s struggles have been difficult for his family as well.

“You don’t realize how much work it is emotionally and physically,” Val said. “We want to take away their pain, but you can’t… it’s heart breaking.”

In many ways the Colorfest celebration is not just for Drew, but for his friends, families and love ones. Many of the same volunteers has returned to help out again this year.

Like last year, the 5K will coincide with Hermannfest, which also takes place in Harman Park on Saturday. Drew was grateful the Hermannfest community agreed to partner with them in away to benefit both parties.

The Colorfest begins Saturday morning with the run starting at 11 a.m. The event will include live music from the band Rockbury. A live auction will be held at 2 p.m.

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