Little things can turn into something big. This year a lot of little things turned into $148,000 – a new record for the It... It Only Takes a Spark Makes Record Total

Little things can turn into something big. This year a lot of little things turned into $148,000 – a new record for the It Only Takes a Spark cancer fund. Helping to reach that total, was a $5000 donation by Robert Schultz of Spring Branch,Texas. Schultz, a former Milbank resident and MHS alumnus, is battling cancer and currently undergoing blood and cerebral treatments for diffuse large B cell lymphoma.

During the cancer walk, the core committee announced the donation and passed along Schultz’s sentiments. He said, “I have been shocked by the cost of the surgeries and the six separate chemo drugs I have been receiving.” He said he had a few family members and friends who have benefited from It Only Takes A Spark, and added, “It is nice to make a donation that goes back into a community that has done so much for so many.”

The 2018 walk started with the traditional community picnic put on by Bob Hartman, who was assisted by members of his family and the Kiwanis Club. Bobbi Meyer sang The Star Spangled Banner. A National Guard honor guard presided over the Lap of Life, which was led by honorary chair Laura Mueller and members of her family. Other cancer survivors walked the Lap of Life or rode the trolley provided by the Twin Brooks Threshing Association.

Ten 20-year volunteers of It Only Takes A Spark were recognized: Julie Jarman, Janet Stengel, Teri Spors, Betty Reinke, Sharon Bogenrief, Sandy Pahl, Daryl Halvorson, Diana Allen, Amy Van Lith, and Kim Jenkins. An It Only Takes A Spark flag was donated by David Vangsness and Linda Hartman.

Eleven teams participated in the 2018 fundraising. They include: Milbank School District’s Bulldogs Fighting Cancer; United Hardware’s United Pride; Great Western Bank, Superheroes; St. Williams/Whetstone Insurance, Game On All Stars; Milbank Avera Medical Group and Big Stone Therapies, the Marching Medics; Lewis Family Drug, Growing a Cure; POET, Fueling a Cure; State Auto Insurance, the Kickers who Give Cancer the Boot; Nani O’Hana; Big Stone City’s Bookends; and the VFW’s Walking Warriors.

Each team donates hundreds of hours a year. Some teams do fundraisers every week. Every team works hard to be creative. The common denominator in most of their fundraisers is food. From candy bouquets, spaghetti feeds, and pie socials to cookie walks and walking tacos, Grant County has shown the way to people’s hearts and wallets is through their stomachs.

The State Auto Kickers sold popcorn every Wednesday. Bev Garrett sold doughnuts all year with the Nani O’Hana team. Ariel and Sofia Schmidt, youngsters of Big Stone City, raised $366 with a lemonade stand. The VFW Walking Warriors sold mints for graduations, weddings, and other special events. Ashley Hill, one of the team members, said the mints “have been a hit and our best fundraiser.”

The Bulldogs held denim days at school. Students donated a dollar from their piggy banks to to the cancer walk. Other teams held dart tournaments, and a rummage sale during the city-wide rummage sales.

At the cancer walk, the live auction brought in $5,070. Decorative metal art items made by the welding and ag-tech classes at MHS attracted $19,000 for the Bulldog team during the silent auction. George Smith, 87, was recognized for raising $4,210 through the sale of raffle tickets.

Over 2,600 luminaries in honor or in memory of those who have had cancer lined the pathways of the park. The list of names on the luminaries included 1,124 honorees. The St. Williams/Whetstone Insurance Game On All Stars led luminary sales with almost 470 names. They received the Lighting the Way award.

More light came from the fireworks display put on by Mark Popowski of Popper’s Fireworks. Betty’s Fireworks and Roger and Irene McCulloch contributed to the display.

The walk concluded Sunday morning with breakfast pizza and additional awards. The Most Creative award went to the Game On All Stars, sponsored by St. Williams/Whetstone Insurance. The Growing a Cure team, sponsored by Lewis Family Drug, earned the Spirit Award. The Walking Warriors, sponsored by the VFW, were named Year Round Fundraisers.

The Top Corporate Fundraiser award went to United Pride sponsored by United Hardware; the Top Noncorporate Fundraiser award went to the Bulldogs Fighting Cancer – a team affiliated with the Milbank School District. Lewis Family Drug earned the right to waive their registration fee next year by collecting the most money in their boot during the coin war. The ‘Give Cancer the Boot’ decorated boots collected $1,359.02 in spare change.

In addition to team fundraising events, the campsites raised funds from food sales and games. The core committee raised funds by sponsoring a spring Great Giveaway that featured a gun auction, a dessert auction, and the distribution of over $5,000 in prizes. Sponsorships add to the total, and memorials and donations come in throughout the year.

Activities for the cancer walk are coordinated by the core committee which includes: Aaron Anderson, Ann Tuchscherer, Julie Landmark, Alex Pauli, and Lynn Wientjes. Donations to the cancer walk can be made online any time at: Or mail to: P.O. Box 105 in Milbank, South Dakota 57252.

Staff Writer

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