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Million dollar milestone reached

Cancer survivors, family members and friends begin the walk around the "track" at the 15th annual Bridge to a Cure Friday night at Hastings High School. More than $88,000 was raised this year.

For five hours they walked the "track," listened to the music and guest speakers, and enjoyed the company of others at Hastings Bridge to a Cure.

While the venue for the event was indoors - in the Hastings High School commons area because of potentially stormy weather - the 15th annual Bridge to a Cure raised more than $88,000 to fight cancer and to provide advocacy, education and services for cancer victims and their families.

The "track" wove around the student and counseling offices on the school's lower level. Six and a half times around the track equaled a mile. Each participating team - 41were registered at the beginning of the Friday night event - had to have one member walking the track at all times.

As with previous year's outside track, hundreds of luminaries lined the indoor one. Some had pictures of both cancer survivors and victims; others had brightly decorated artwork on them. Because this year's event was held inside, there was no lighting of the luminaries.

Djay Sound and Light provided music, the Hastings High School cheerleaders and members of the band led the survivors' lap (the kick-off to the evening), and guest speakers offered encouragement and support.

Top team fundraisers were:

• First place: Kathy's Crusaders (15 members), $10,840, team captain Kathy Horsch;

• Second place (tie): Hastings Breast Cancer Support group (14 members), $5,770, Betty Beskau, captain; and Sis and Vernie's Kids (11 team members), Connie Housker, captain; and

• Honorable mention honors were presented to Team OSEL (Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran Church), $4,713, Trish Agen, captain; Jim's Gang, $4,629, Diane Gergen, captain; and Circle of Hope, $3,488, Polly Valade and Sarah Spanhanks, captains.

The top individual fundraiser was Kate Ries (Sis and Vernie's Kids), $2,105; and Stephanie Silvers (Bridge to a Cure committee Raiders Express team), $1,600.

Top individual fundraisers (survivors) were Jean Ahrendt (Kathy's Crusaders), $5,365; and Bonnie Birnstengel (Hastings Breast Cancer Support group), $2,933.

The youngest team member was Kaylee Pohl (Jim's Gang), 4 1/2 months old. The oldest team member was Albert Horsch (Kathy's Crusaders), 77; and the team member who traveled the farthest to participate was Jennifer Raway (Regina Centerpedes), 1,843 miles, from Apple Valley, Calif., to Hastings.

Also honored were all students who were registered team members and who raised funds to fight cancer. Each received a $3 Dairy Queen certificate and gift card.

This year's event co-chairs Angie McGinnis and Linda Kampa were very appreciative for the support, the number of teams, the volunteer effort, and generosity of the community. Both will step down as chairs, but will remain members of the committee.

The new Bridge to a Cure chairs are Lori Mikel, Pam Pontzer and Tammy Rawling.

Next year's event will be held Aug. 6, 2010.