Seriously fancy — tea party funds help ease cancer’s burden

Tea party funds help ease cancer’s burden

Photo by Clay Schuldt Pat Hartman display a facy hat complete with lights at Sunday’s Tea for Cancer fundraiser tea party.

NEW ULM — It was tea time once again, as hundreds of local ladies came out in their Sunday best to raise money for a noble cause.

The third annual Tea for Cancer fundraiser held Sunday at Best Western Plus was conceived by Sandy Reinke and Kristine Rueckert to provide financial support for families dealing with cancer.

Money raised at the event goes to special scholarship grants. Local families that are undergoing cancer treatment can apply for grants of $1,000. The money can then be used to pay for expenses related to treatments.

Reinke said the money is often used to pay for gas traveling from doctor appointments, but there are no restrictions for families that qualify. Families can use the grants for covering utility bills, food, even cleaning services. By helping families cover the smaller stuff, those battling cancer can focus on getting better.

“We can’t take away the challenges of cancer,” Reinke said, “but we can alleviate some of the pressure.”

Photo by Clay Schuldt Jessica Zanke explains the story behind this year’s “best hat” contest winner she’s wearing — it’s made of bra parts.

The fundraiser was organized around a tea party theme as a way to add levity and entertainment to a serious cause. In addition to fundraising, the event helped to educate, entertain and empathize with those facing cancer.

Part of the entertainment included wearing fancy hats. During the party, guests were encouraged to vote for who brought the best hat to the party. This year Jessica Zanke won for her homemade hat that incorporated parts of a bra. This is the second time Zanke won the best hat contest at this fundraiser. She said this year’s hat was assembled at the last minute.

This year, around 240 tickets were sold for the tea party. Money from ticket sales will go to help fund additional scholarships. Several additional events including a wine pull and raffle drawing help fund an additional four grants.

The tea party included a series of guest speakers who spoke on different aspects of cancer treatment.

Susan Gersch and Jennifer Eckstein with the New Ulm Medical Centers spoke on the process an individual goes through upon receiving a cancer diagnosis. Gersch is an oncology nurse who helps patients navigate the system following a diagnosis. Eckstein helps address the social determinants that impact health. Eckstein said they work together to reduce the stress of patients who should be focusing on health. She said the grants offered by Tea for Cancer are a huge relief to many in need.

Photo by Clay Schuldt Gwen Mack, aka the Lemon Drop Lady, buys lemon drop candles to give to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to ease the side effects of the treatment.

The keynote speaker during the fundraiser was Drew Aufderheide who shared his story of being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia at age 30. CML is cancer usually diagnosed in people age 67.

Over the last eight years, Aufderheide’s life was dramatically impacted by his cancer, changing what he can do. Aufderheide described his condition in terms of spoon theory.

An individual has a finite amount of spoons per day, but they never know how many spoons they will have each day or how many they will need to use. Some days he burns through spoons fast. Other days he tries to save up spoons for later activities.

Aufderheide said much can be achieved by understanding and working through limitations. One of the challenges is communicating with others about his limitations. Aufderheide struggles with chronic pain management, but to many, he looks healthy.

The annual Drew’s Crew Color Run held during Hermannfest has been a significant area of help for him. It has meant a great deal to receive support from the community. Without the fundraiser, affording the needed medication would be impossible.

Photo by Clay Schuldt Cassie Calbick and Cassie Paulson show their brightly colored hats at the Tea for Cancer tea party.

Aufderheide has become thankful for the little things and appreciates those who helped.

Tea for Cancer takes donations year round. Donations can be made online at teaforcancer.org. All proceeds from Tea for Cancer will be used to provide support to local cancer patients and families experiencing financial hardship due to the disease. Families can apply for a grant at the Tea for Cancer homepage: teaforcancer.org.

Photo by Clay Schuldt Emma Carlson exudes maximum amount of cuteness in her hat and formalwear at the third annual Tea for Cancer fundraiser.


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