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This is one truly impressive place

By Staff | Jul 30, 2017

I have to admit it. I was extremely impressed.

As the story in the Medical Guide magazine included with this week’s Faribault County Register indicates, the Hormel Institute in Austin, Minnesota, is a very impressive place.

Back at the end of April of this year, I was fortunate enough to get a guided tour of the place, along with John Huisman, of Blue Earth, and Larry Anderson, of Frost.

In fact, it was Larry Anderson who arranged the tour for the three of us. It seems that Larry has been a strong supporter of the Hormel Institute for many years. In his words, he is an unpaid volunteer publicist, going out telling folks of all the wonderful things being done at the institute and along the way trying to drum up some donations for their work.

Those donations, by the way, all go directly towards cancer research at the institute. None of the donations they receive go towards administrative costs, or paying for maintenance, upkeep or expansion. The reason is, those costs are all covered by the funds they receive annually from the Hormel Foundation, which pays for all that.

But I digress.

Larry first learned about the institute when he was working at AgStar. That company makes an annual $10,000 donation to the Hormel Institute. It was through his work at AgStar that Larry first learned all about the institute and had his first tour of the place.

And was impressed.

Now that he is retired, the institute is one of the things he feels is worth his time and effort to support. So, as he says, he does what he can to support them and is doing what he can to spread the word about this place and what it does.

When I told people that I was going to Austin and have a tour of the Hormel Institute, they all thought I was going to learn all about Spam and how it is made. No, I would tell them, the Hormel Institute. Not Hormel Foods and not the Spam Museum.The Hormel Institute, that big white building on the north side of I-90, across the freeway from Hormel Foods.

Yes, they would say, isn’t that where they research food products and specifically Spam? No, I would answer, that is where they do research about all things dealing with cancer.

And, as I found out during the tour, they do a lot of research about cancer. What causes it, how to treat it, how to prevent it. So, actually, they do research food, but only as to which foods we should eat that can help prevent our getting cancer.

They also discovered and named Omega 3 and its many benefits for the human body and mind, including its preventing certain cancer.

Something else that is impressive is that the institute is celebrating its 75th year in 2017. That is correct, they have been doing research for 75 years. It was Jay Hormel who started it, by converting a horse barn into two research labs. Now, the institute he started is growing by leaps and bounds. They expanded in 2008 and again in 2014, and now have 42 labs and hundreds of researchers, and are trying to get even more to join their team.

But again, I digress.

When I was first invited to go on this tour with Larry, I thought it would something interesting to do. But I wasn’t sure if I would write a story about it, mainly since it is not in Faribault County, so it is out of our coverage area. It was when I found out that one of the cancers they are studying is Wilms’ tumor, the kidney cancer that Rosie Evenson of Blue Earth has battled, that I became very interested in learning more.

The Hormel Institute has two researchers working full time on Wilms’ tumor, thanks in part to a generous grant from an Austin dentist and his wife who started a foundation in the name of their son, who died from complications from treatments of Wilms’ tumor.

I did learn more with my tour of the institute. A lot more. The results are part of the story in the Medical Guide.

But I not only learned a lot, I was impressed with what I learned.

With cancer so prevalent in our world and in my own family it is impressive that there is a place in our own backyard, or at least just down the freeway from our own backyard, that is working so hard on trying to remove this horrible disease from our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

They are making tremendous strides towards their goal of finding a cure for cancer.

I wish them continued success.