LUVERNE — In this season of giving, the spirit of giving is what is needed to help a local family through their first Christmas without a husband, a dad, a farmer.
On Sunday, employees of Prairie Rehab have organized a benefit for the Tony Boyenga family. Tony’s wife, Megan, has worked for the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based business for the past 15 years. When Tony died of a massive heart attack in June — at the age of 31 — the shock and grief was unimaginable. Megan’s coworkers were at a loss.
“She’s a family member to us,” said Gina Glasoe, business development manager and speech language pathologist at Prairie Rehab. “It was such a shock to the entire community and to the family and to us. We just knew we needed to step up and do something.”
Glasoe is co-coordinating the Tony Boyenga Benefit, planned from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Grand Prairie Events in Luverne. The benefit includes a meal, 50-50 raffle, children’s activities and an online silent auction already underway. And, because it will be a Vikings game day, a pair of big screen TVs will be set up for sports fans, with a cash bar set up by Bluestem Catering open for the afternoon. Even Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance.
“We didn’t want (Megan) and the children to be forgotten, especially during the holiday season,” Glasoe said. “We knew this was going to be a tough time for them.”
Food will be served starting at noon and continue until it runs out. There will be a choice of barbecue or pulled pork sandwiches, chips, ice cream and soda, all for a free-will donation to directly support the Boyenga family. Much of the food has been donated for the fundraiser.
With the 50-50 raffle, people may purchase tickets at $1 each or six for $5. Proceeds from ticket sales will be split 50-50 between the Boyenga family and one lucky ticket holder. The drawing will be conducted at 2 p.m.
For the silent auction, all of the approximately 200 items will be on display during the benefit Sunday, but bidders will need to go online to make their bids. The bidding has already begun, and will continue until 4 p.m. Sunday at https://qtego.net/qlink/boyenga. Among the silent auction items are family vacation packages, tickets to sporting events, autographed jerseys from Minnesota Vikings players Adam Thielen and Harrison Smith, a wide variety of children’s toys, gift items and many gift certificates to businesses throughout the region.
Glasoe encourages bidders to pick up the items they win at the close of the auction, or arrange for someone to pick up their items if they can’t be present. Prairie Rehab will work with bidders unable to be present to make arrangements for pick-up.
Prairie Rehab staff from Sioux Falls and Luverne, as well as its offices stretching to St. James and Sherburn, and Marion, S.D., pulled together and spent the past several months arranging for and collecting items for the silent auction.
“There were several of us making phone calls for donations, and we put a Facebook post out requesting auction items,” Glasoe said. “There’s just been an amazing number of extremely generous, heartfelt people out there.”
While Glasoe said a fundraising goal hasn’t been set, they want to raise as much money as possible to help the Boyenga family.
“We wanted to surpass what (Megan’s) dreams and thoughts would be and make her kids’ holiday be bright,” she said. “We just want to get as much as we can for her.”
Tony and Megan have five children: Rayden, 12; Coyer, 7; and 4-year-old triplets Hazyl, Levicy and Bronly.
Children’s activities will be ongoing throughout the afternoon Sunday, with face painting, a Nerf shooting gallery and half a dozen other activities that offer prizes.
Anyone who would like to contribute to the Boyenga family, but is unable to attend Sunday’s benefit, may send a check made out to the Boyenga Family Benefit, to Prairie Rehab, 1720 S. Cliff Ave., Sioux Falls, S.D. 57105.