Lanterns for Life to light up Lake Okabena
WORTHINGTON — Established in 2012 by an Adrian couple, Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate will host its second annual Lanterns for Life fundraiser Saturday evening at Centennial Park in Worthington.
Lanterns for Life is one of two fundraisers the organization hosts each year. The other is a motorcycle run in early June, marking Regan Roloff’s June 2011 diagnosis of stomach cancer.
She founded Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate with her husband, Lonnie, as a way to help local people going through cancer treatment. The idea came after she chose to get a second opinion in Rochester and took her treatments there.
“It cost a lot of money to drive over there,” she said.
Though the couple had applied for gas cards from another organization that assists patients with cancer, Roloff said they were denied. She doesn’t want other people to hear those words.
“My husband and I decided that we wanted to start something that our area wouldn’t fall out of the parameters of — that our neighbors could get help with gas cards and motels, or even just support,” she said. “We wanted to be able to help everybody and not let anyone get turned down.”
Roloff said nine out of 10 times, cancer patients from southwest Minnesota have to travel outside of their area for treatment. Those travel bills add up — on top of the medical bills and general household bills.
“Gas is not cheap right now,” Roloff said. “We just want to be able to help.”
Money raised from Saturday’s event, planned from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Centennial Park shelter, will be added to a fund that the Roloffs use to purchase gas cards and offer financial assistance for motel rooms to people undergoing cancer treatment.
The evening will include Pizza Ranch pizza, cookies, candy, pop and water available for sale; a bouncy house and face painting for the kids; and a bucket raffle offering numerous gift certificates and unique donations. Capping off the evening will be the lighting of lanterns (available for purchase to decorate that evening) and lantern release on Lake Okabena.
“We’ll be floating (the lanterns) out on the lake at sunset,” Roloff said. “It’s kind of a somber moment.”
Throughout the evening, live music will be performed by Tommy Lee Binford.
More than 50 items have been donated for the bucket auction, from gift certificates to local businesses to casino stays at Jackpot Junction and Grand Falls. Roloff said she and her husband also received an intarsia wood carving of two little dutch children — “It’s absolutely beautiful,” she said — and a Tony Oliva autographed Twins poster.
In the inaugural Lanterns for Life event last year, Roloff said more than $4,000 was raised for Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate.
“All of the money that we raised is kept locally,” she said, adding that the organization has assisted approximately 10 cancer patients since it was established.
“It’s quick, easy and painless to give us a call,” Roloff said of cancer patients who need some financial assistance getting to doctor appointments and treatment. “We wish more people would take advantage of it. There’s more people we know who could use it. We’re just here to help and we’ll get it to you.”
While the organization has assisted primarily Nobles County residents, the Roloffs are planning to expand farther out — offering assistance to cancer patients in the adjoining counties of Rock and Murray.
Since the first Cancer Doesn’t Discriminate event, Regan Roloff’s cancer has returned. She now has Stage 4 stomach cancer, which was discovered when she was pregnant with her son.
“The baby is great, and I’ve been in treatment now since last November,” she said. “Mine will probably be an indefinite fight.”
Anyone interested in donating to the organization may do so during Saturday night’s event. Donations can also be made online at cancerdoesntdiscriminate.org. The website also provides information for any cancer patient who needs financial assistance getting to appointments.