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Bucs 4 Hope helps to support area families

By Staff | Feb 18, 2018

To date, Bucs 4 Hope has raised over $12,000 for families within Faribault County who have loved ones battling cancer. These generous donations go towards medical and travel expenses associated with fighting the illness. Local businesses such as Gartzke’s, Cedar Inn and Roerig Hardware have all contributed to the cause. Above, friends of the Kennedy family gathered after a cancer benefit for Bob Kennedy months before his passing in 2016. Dawn and her three sons, Jack, Jared, and Justin, created Bucs 4 Hope in his honor.

On Thursday, Feb. 8, a worthwhile fundraiser took center stage during halftime of Blue Earth Area’s home basketball game against St. James.

Students of the BEA National Honor’s Society, as well as Buccaneer audience members, participated in the Miracle Minute Challenge. For this event, students waded through the crowd at the Blue Earth Area High School gymnasium and collected donations for one minute.

The goal of the challenge was to raise money for “Bucs 4 Hope,” a grass-roots organization which helps ease the financial burden for families in Faribault County affected by cancer. The funds raised by Bucs 4 Hope will go towards gas, lodging, and insurance co-pays to families in need while they fight this deadly disease.

BEA head coach Colby Swanson, as well as Bucs 4 Hope president Dawn Kennedy, helped stage the event. Swanson was happy with the participation from both students and fans.

“The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association really wants us as coaches to do something to try to help with that cause,” Swanson explains. “It’s a nice cause and it’s good for the community to come out and support us.”

Kennedy explains the impetus for the Bucs 4 Hope initiative came from a devastating experience that hit close to home. In 2016, Kennedy’s husband, Bob, the former Patton Funeral Home director, lost his 15-month battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Bob left behind his wife and three sons, Jack, Jared, and Justin.

“Around that time, our friends in the community came together and held a huge benefit for my family to help us with everything we were going through,” Kennedy recalls. “This is our way to give back to families because they really stepped up and took care of us.”

Roughly a month after Bob’s passing, Kennedy began thinking about organizing a cancer fundraising group. Not only was this project a coping mechanism for her grieving family, but Kennedy says there was a glaring need for a grass-roots cancer fundraising operation like Bucs 4 Hope.

“There’s really nothing here locally to support families dealing with cancer,” says the Marshalltown, Iowa native. “The American Cancer Society, the Coaches Versus Cancer, and Relay for Life are all great events, but all of that money leaves our community. I just really wanted to do something that stayed here to help anybody in Faribault County.”

Including Kennedy, Bucs 4 Hope has five board members consisting of Diane Bell, Melissa McGuire, Liz Schavey and David Frundt. In less than two years since forming this operation, Bucs 4 Hope has raised over $12,000. Kennedy herself was surprised at the five-figure total.

“When I sat down and I did the math, I was really pretty shocked,” Kennedy says. “I didn’t have any expectations when we started this, but I knew Blue Earth and Winnebago are great communities and I knew families would want to support one another.”

In order to make Bucs 4 Hope such a rousing success within the county, several businesses and organizations have chipped in and contributed to the cause. Juba’s SuperValu, the United Hospital District, Heartland Embroidery, Blue Earth Graphics and First Financial Bank in Winnebago are among the many local establishments which have donated time and resources to this altruistic endeavor.

Kennedy says the creation of Bucs 4 Hope merchandise, including hats and t-shirts, could not have been possible without the assistance of those in the community. She expresses gratitude for all the help her cause has received.

“My board and I are so grateful for all the amazing support our community has shown for Bucs 4 Hope,” Kennedy says. “Without everyone’s support, we wouldn’t have the resources to help families like we have been able to,” she added.