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Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

Creative ways to give

You don’t have to be wealthy to contribute to health-related research at the U

Sticking it to cancer

What started eight years ago as a benefit for one family has blossomed into a full-fledged hockey tournament that raises thousands of dollars a year for breast cancer research.

It all began when a so-called “hockey mom” in the Circle Pines Centennial Hockey Association got breast cancer, explains Jackie Olson, who now organizes the fund-raiser. “The family didn’t have enough money to pay the bills, so Sue Olson, another mother in the association, and her family started this tournament,” Olson says.

Less than a decade later, the Stick It to Cancer hockey tournament for girls and women is consistently attracting about 70 teams (that’s about 1,000 participants) and raising $35,000 each year. This year’s event, held April 21 - 23 at the Blaine Sports Arena, raised $37,000 for breast cancer research at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center.

Winners don’t get trophies or medals, however. “That’s more money we can donate,” Olson says. The tournament also depends on volunteers and sponsorships to maximize proceeds, she says.

This is the fi rst year the tournament has benefi ted the University of Minnesota Cancer Center’s work. “We just wanted the money to stay local and help out anybody we could,” Olson says.

Making strides in cystic fibrosis

As a child, Kate Gustafson loved playing outside with family friends Lindsay and Chelsea Votel. They’d play “house” and jump on the trampoline until it was time for Chelsea, who has cystic fibrosis, to come inside to do her treatments.

Kate and Lindsay would sit with Chelsea while she took her medications and strapped on a chest-thumping vest to loosen the mucus in her lungs. “We did everything we could to make her feel normal,” Kate says.

Chelsea is heading to college this fall and living a normal life, largely because of her doctor, Warren Warwick, M.D., founder of the Minnesota Cystic Fibrosis Center and a world leader in CF research and treatments.

So when Gustafson, who just finished her junior year at the University, decided to organize a 5K race on campus, it was easy to decide where to send the proceeds.

“Dr. Warwick is number one in the nation for extending life expectancy for those with cystic fibrosis,” she says. “He’s the one who is taking care of Chelsea.”

More than 400 people joined this year’s 5K Run for Research, held March 25 on the University’s Minneapolis campus. The event raised about $7,500 for Warwick’s work.

A cyclist with real heart

Bill Matson is a hard-charging investment CEO and portfolio manager from New Hampshire who’s always on the go. But when heart troubles slowed him down last year, it was a Minnesota-made Medtronic aortic valve replacement that got him back on his feet.

Now, a year after surgery, Matson is giving back to the institution and the researchers who put the pep back in his step.

In January Matson started a cross-country bike ride to raise money for several causes, including the University of Minnesota Medical School. It was here that researcher Dick Bianco and his Experimental Surgical Services lab conducted the critical research and testing necessary to make sure that artifi cial valves are safe prior to human use.

Since he hit the road, Matson has logged nearly 3,000 miles on a path that has taken him from San Francisco south to San Diego, then east to Florida and Georgia. Now he’s heading to the Midwest with plans to reach Minneapolis by June 16 — the one-year anniversary of his valve surgery.

Why the big trip? “I see this as a great opportunity to raise money for truly deserving causes,” says Matson, “and I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds while I’m at it.”

Cookbook for a cause

When Patricia Wilkinson died just fi ve and a half weeks after being diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer, her family was devastated. Her daughter Kate felt she had to do something to stop this aggressive form of cancer.

Considering her mother’s love of cooking, Kate Wilkinson started collecting recipes for a cookbook she’d sell to help raise money for gastrointestinal cancer research. “Mom taught my four sisters and me to always use the good china, use the good linens, make the best food — in essence, to make an event out of the ordinary,” she says.

The cookbook, Use the Good China, contains more than 300 recipes that have been tested and retested by Pat’s friends, family, and coworkers. But most important, says Kate, it’s a tribute to her mother’s life. “She showed all of us what courage, dignity, elegance, and grace really are, even facing her own death,” she says. “Although she was confined to bed, she held numerous parties while she was sick, directing us, once again, to use the good china.”

Wilkinson is donating net proceeds from the $15 cookbook to gastrointestinal cancer research at the University of Minnesota Cancer Center. So far more than 500 copies have sold. For information on how you can purchase the cookbook, call Kate Wilkinson at 651-436-4110.

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