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Go leaping for lupus on Oct. 15

In two years, attendance at the Leaf for Lupus event more than tripled, from 200 people its first year to nearly 700 last year. The event is back again this year and is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Leaf for Lupus raises money for the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota, which helps support research toward a cure for Lupus. Lupus is an auto-immune disease in which a person's immune system attacks the body's own tissues as well as bacteria, viruses and foreign materials. There is no cure.

Kristie Wilson of Hastings was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 17. But she wasn't about to let herself become a victim.

"I've never been one to take things sitting down," she said.

She got connected with the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota and started raising money through the foundation's Lupus Walk for Hope. While she was working at Hidden Greens Golf Course, she had a donation basket put out to help her fundraising cause. Then Lisa Swanson of Nicolai Avenue Marketing came to her with an idea to raise even more.

Every year, kids would take advantage of the leaf piles the golf course pushed up in the fall, and Swanson suggested turning the event into an official fundraiser.

"It was something kids were already doing and having fun with," Wilson said.

A few others got involved with the effort too - Wilson's sister Mindy Shoen, Swanson's husband Jason and her sister-in-law Denise Dodge, the golf course's clubhouse manager. Their first year they raised about $1,500. Last year brought in about $5,000. This year they hope to do well again, although due to one major change, they're not sure what to expect, Wilson said.

The change is that instead of being held over two days, leaf jumpers will only have one day to enjoy the 10-foot-tall leaf piles. The reason is because the organizers wanted to try a silent auction rather than the raffle prizes they had done previous years, and a silent auction would be difficult to carry over two days.

The main event at Leaf for Lupus is the giant leaf piles for kids to jump into, but there's more. There will be cookie decorating, a bring-your-own-camera photo booth, temporary tattoos, a campfire, a hay ride through the grounds to the leaf piles and a crazy hair decorating booth. All that is included in the $5 ticket. There will also be concessions available for an extra charge, pumpkins and squash for sale, some kids raffle baskets and the silent auction. Kids can also have a feather added to their crazy hair with an extra cost. Silent auction items include a bed and breakfast stay at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing, Minnesota Wild tickets, signed photos of Minnesota Vikings player Percy Harvin and Minnesota Wild player Cal Clutterbuck, hand-made craft items and more.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, at Hidden Greens Golf Course. For more information, go to