Organization serves the counties of Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Marshall, Kittson and Roseau

    How do cancer patients say “Thank You” a quarter of a million ways? They just do! You can see the appreciation in their smiles, you can hear it in their words. In fact, that’s how Mardy Anderson, co-chair of the North Country Horsemen Saddle Club’s Trails to Treatments (TTT) Committee began the program at the annual Appreciation Supper recently. The reading of thank you notes from some of the grant recipients set the tone as he announced that, as of October 17, 2017, TTT has approved 517 grants for a total of $252,100.00!

    A quarter of a million dollars! What a landmark for TTT! The exciting news is that almost all of that money has gone to cancer patients within a six-county area right here in northwestern Minnesota. Those counties include Polk, Red Lake, Pennington, Marshall, Kittson, and Roseau.

    While grants have been paid out to cancer patients in more than 30 counties in five states, preference is given to patients who live in the area. So far, TTT has not had to turn down grant requests. That is thanks to people like you! As long as the money comes in, TTT will see that it is distributed to those in need.

    87% of the grants went to patients in the six counties listed. Of the remaining 13%, from what was shared on applications from non-local counties, those grants have gone to people that discovered the TTT grant program through friends, family, infusion centers and health care professionals.

    TTT is a unique charity organization in that all work done, whether it be fundraising or the distribution of grants, is done on a volunteer basis. None of the money donated to TTT is spent on administrative costs. All money donated to TTT goes directly to cancer patients. Not many organizations can make that claim!

    Fundraising for Trails to Treatments is no longer a once-a-year event. It is no longer confined to the committee that oversees the fund. Over the past couple of years, fourteen teams have been formed throughout the area by people who believe in the cause and hold fundraisers throughout the year. The teams brought in a total of $42,977.54 that counted toward the total from this year’s Labor Day Trails to Treatments Cancer Benefit and Ride.

    With grant applications ever increasing, more and more money is needed to meet those needs. At the Labor Day event, money was made from many activities, including a fun run, chili feed, karaoke contest, breakfast, lunch, rider registrations, root beer float sales, barbecued rib supper, rider donations, silent auction and live auction. There’s never a dull moment nor the lack of an opportunity to donate throughout the weekend!

    Though the Ninth Annual Cancer Benefit and Ride was just completed, Trails to Treatments is entering its seventh year of existence. Other charities were the beneficiaries in the early years of the ride. Each year, the dollar amount taken in has increased significantly. TTT committee members believe that is because of the promises made and kept, a good thing because the number of grant requests also keeps growing.

    The grand total of money raised after expenses for the 2017 Cancer Benefit and Ride came to $87,671.73, more than $28,000 above the 2016 total. In the past year, TTT has issued $88,200 in grant monies, up $24,000 from the previous year.

    So, you can see that the need is there. Grants given exceeded the actual fundraiser. Donations and memorials make up the difference. If TTT continues on the same path of increase at an average of 29% per year, projected grant payments for the coming year will exceed $100,000. So, the fundraising continues.

    But, fundraising for 2018 has already begun. At the Appreciation Supper, TTT was given a check from Penny Wars at the GMR School Middle River site, which brought in $564.24 in its “Day for Dan.” Dan, the custodian at the school told the kids to give the money to Trails to Treatments.

    The second donation came from “Trash the Dress,” an event held annually in memory of Taylor Moen. The check presented by Taylor’s mom totaled $2879.00.

    Though the Labor Day event is definitely the largest fundraiser of each year, more must be done to keep pace with the ever-increasing requests. Trails to Treatments is a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist those in need of funding during their treatment of cancer. Because most people are not fully prepared for the out of pocket expenses cancer treatment requires, grants are awarded by TTT to help defray those costs. Volunteers are dedicated to the long term success of this grant program through ongoing donations and fund raising efforts.

    Speakers at this year’s Cancer Tribute Ceremony were none other than Bruce and Carol Van Den Einde from Gardner, North Dakota. They are the founders of the Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer in McCloud, North Dakota, with proceeds donated to the Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo, ND. It was this ride that drew members of the North Country Horsemen Saddle Club and eventually became the inspiration for Trails to Treatments.

    It started off with Bruce’s dream to ride across the state of North Dakota for cancer. During the planning of that event it snowballed into a trail ride for cancer instead. (Note: They finally did do the ride across the state of ND last September, fulfilling their dream. It was called “The Journey for a Cure “with all the proceeds going back to the Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer event.)

    No strangers to cancer, Carol has had pre-cancer cell on her uterus, which she had a two year struggle controlling. It required her having surgery every three months for about two years. She was referred on for the last two surgeries to the University of Minnesota, but was fortunate that it never made it to the final stages of cancer.  

    The Cowboy Up Ride Against Cancer event started off as a trail ride that is approximately 10-15 miles long depending on the year. It has brought in about 200-350 horses on average for the ride, but on its best year it brought in almost 600 horses. It has grown into an all weekend event to include non-riders.

    Mardy and Ronnette Anderson from the Middle River area had attended the Cowboy Up event that became the inspiration for Trails to Treatments. They brought the concept home, and with the help of a dedicated committee, have grown the idea into what TTT has become today. Committee members are: Mardy Anderson 218-689-2063, Ronnette Anderson 218-689-8154, Sue Helm 218-686-5244, Barb Geer 218-222-3502, Marc & Shirley Horien 218-686-4163, Steve & Stacy Bierman 218-686-7074, Tanya Peterson 612-913-1189, Melissa Galland 218-686-4214 or Kristi Westlund 218-686-7440.

    For donation, fundraising, and contact information, as well as grant applications, please visit the TTT website:  Remember, it’s not what you have in your pocket that makes you thankful. It’s what you have in your heart!