Lady Cardinals join the battle against cancer

by Peter Bodley
Managing Editor

The Lady Cardinals are joining the fight against cancer.

The Coon Rapids High School girls’ basketball program and the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation are teaming up to create awareness for cancer in the community.

The inaugural Lady Cardinals Fight against Cancer event will take place Friday, Feb, 10 when the Coon Rapids girls’ basketball team plays Andover at Coon Rapids High School.

The money raised from the event will be presented to the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation in celebration of Michelle Marahrens, a cancer survivor and friend of Coon Rapids High School, according to Toni Jesinoski, head coach of the Lady Cardinals.

Hope Chest will keep the money raised in the Coon Rapids community by donating the proceeds from the event to Mercy Hospital, Jesinoski said.

In 2010, there were 25,080 people diagnosed with cancer in the state of Minnesota and over 9,000 deaths, she said.

“This event is to help create awareness of cancer and help reduce these ever rising numbers,” she said.

Marahrens is the sister of current Coon Rapids girls’ varsity assistant coach Melissa Charboneau.

“In 2004, Michelle welcomed twins into this world,” Jesinoski said.

“A year later she received devastating news that she has Stage 2B breast cancer which put her through surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy.

“Just four short years later in 2009, Michelle again found a lump on her original mastectomy scar which led to more surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy.

“Today, she continues to go in for six-month check-ups and is proud to say she is living a happy life.”

According to Jesinoski, the event will be dedicated to cancer awareness for the Coon Rapids community.

It will include a silent auction at the game, half-time activities and an educational component, Jesinoski said.

The educational component will take place the evening before the game when a representative from the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation will speak in the Coon Rapids High School Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 to inform the community on actions they can take to prevent cancer.

“Mark both dates on your calendar and be sure to come support the Coon Rapids girls’ basketball team and the fight against cancer,” Jesinoski said.

The Lady Cardinals are seeking donations for the silent auction and the cancer awareness event in general.

According to Jesinoski there are three levels of involvement.

• Slam dunk – big ticket items to be donated for the silent auction.

• Three-pointer – donations that can be packaged together to form a theme basket for the silent auction.

• Lay-up – items such as office supplies, decorations, refreshments, food, small prizes for contests and any donations to support the cause.

All donations are 100 percent tax deductible and companies/businesses making contributions will be recognized the night of the event, Jesinoski said.

The Hope Chest for Breast Cancer’s Foundation’s mission is to help underserved or financially distressed individuals and their families touched by breast cancer.

According to its website, the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation was established in 2001 and has provided $1 million to support to breast cancer patients and their families in the Twin Cities area.

“Hope Chest’s guiding philosophy is to ensure that our funding is disbursed in our community to provide the most effective support to those directly touched by breast cancer at a time when they need hope,” the website states.

Hope Chest’s programs provide:

• Financial assistance for rent, utilities, transportation and other needs to those who are having financial difficulties or are unable to work due to the side effects of breast cancer treatment.

• “Delivered Meals that Heal” for breast cancer patients and their families so they can get the essential nourishment that their bodies need during treatment.

• Early detection education and screening programs that focus on diverse populations.

Hope Chest was founded by Barbara Hensley after she lost her two sisters, Kathy and Patsy, to breast cancer.

According to the Hope Chest website, Hensley became painfully aware of the challenges faced by under-served women experiencing breast cancer.

In addition to the not-for-profit foundation, the Hope Chest has also opened for-profit retail stores that generate income to support charitable programs within the Twin Cities area.

Distributions are made annually by the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer Foundation to local hospitals, treatment centers, clinics and other human service organizations that provide emergency financial assistance.

The Hope Chest retail shops are open seven days a week and sell donated high-end women’s clothing and accessories as well as upscale furniture and home decor accessories.

According to the Hope Chest website, the retail stores sell merchandise at a fraction of the cost because all of the items — from evening wear to end tables — are donated by individuals or corporations.

Currently there are two retail stores located in the Twin Cities – one in Orono/Navarre and one in St. Paul.

For more information, contact Jesinoski at 763-506-7254 or by e-mail at Toni.jesinoski@anoka.k12.mn.us.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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