Cattlemen's Ball raises $600,000 for Eppley Cancer Center

by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public affairs | July 27, 2005

Officials from the Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska visited UNMC on Tuesday to make a donation of historic proportions -- $600,000. The funds were generated by the 2005 Cattlemen's Ball held June 4 at the Herb Albers Feedlot near Wisner, Neb. The amount nearly triples the previous fund-raising record for the event.

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Herb and Kathy Albers, hosts of the 2005 Cattlemen's Ball, present the ceremonial $600,000 check to Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center.

"The Cattlemen's Ball mission of supporting cancer research, showcasing a Nebraska ranch and promoting beef as a part of a healthy diet is resonating with more and more people each year," said Wade Horton, chairman of the Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska Advisory Board. "This year's fund-raising results are not only a testament to the growing support we have received from across Nebraska, but also to the enthusiasm and hard work exhibited by the local businesses and individuals who were central to the success of this year's event. If you've never attended a Cattlemen's Ball, we invite you to join us in 2006 for a day of great food, outstanding entertainment and activities, and most importantly to raise funds for a very worthy cause."

Hosts for this year's ball were Herb and Kathy Albers. With 15,000 head of cattle, the Albers Feedlot is a large operation. Diagnosed just over two years ago with a type of leukemia, Herb Albers is a cancer survivor. "Our lives have been touched by cancer," he said. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to help in the fight against cancer, while also bringing a great event to Northeast Nebraska."

The Albers, Horton and several other organizers of this year's ball were on hand to make a check presentation to the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, graciously accepted the donation and expressed his gratitude for all the hard work that went into the event.

"This donation is beyond our wildest dreams. It demonstrates how the event has grown in stature and has now become one of the premier fund-raising efforts in Nebraska," Dr. Cowan said. "Words can't adequately express how grateful we are to the Cattlemen's Ball staff for what they have accomplished. It is remarkable. Fighting cancer is an admirable cause, and we hope to use this money to truly make a difference in people's lives."

Over the previous seven years, the Cattlemen's Ball has raised more than $880,000 for cancer research at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, with the previous record set in 2002 when $207,000 was raised when the event was held in Valparaiso, Neb. This year's event sold out several months in advance with 3,339 tickets sold.

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Herb and Kathy Albers pose with Ann Berger, Ph.D., center, a College of Nursing professor whose research focuses on the fatigue of cancer patients. Dr. Berger was one of many UNMC faculty who attended this summer's Cattlemen's Ball.

This year's ball marked the first time the event has been held in the northeast corner of the state. It was highlighted by a concert from the country rock group Sawyer Brown. The group has performed more than 3,000 live shows and recorded 13 gold and platinum albums in the United States and Canada as well as 19 Top 5 singles.

"The Cattlemen's Ball was an incredible success this year," said Ann Bruntz, executive secretary for the event. "A combination of factors helped make this year's ball a premier gala -- the generous support of the Wisner community and the entire Cuming County area, the hard work of all the volunteers, and the broad support across Nebraska for UNMC's Eppley Cancer Center."

Other event activities included: a tour of the Albers Feedlot, live and silent auctions, golf scramble, car or truck raffle, style show, quilt show, clay shoot, horse whisperer, working dog show, wine tasting, Civil War reenactment and a tractor promenade.

In addition, staff from UNMC's hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center, provided free PSA screenings to 96 people, while 350 were screened for sun damage, 250 blood pressures were taken and 140 hemocult kits were given out for people to be screened for colon cancer. In addition, the Cosmopolitan Mobile Nursing Center of the UNMC College of Nursing screened 129 people for cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

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Several organizational leaders of the Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska pose with Dr. Ken Cowan of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center (second from left). Others in the photo (left - right) are: Ann Bruntz, executive secretary; Holly Schroeder, board member and daughter of the host family for this year's ball; Herb Albers and Kathy Albers, hosts of this year's ball; Wade Horton, chairman of the advisory board; and Kae Pavlik, member of the advisory board and the Friends of UNMC Eppley Cancer Center.
As always, the event was attended by a number of prominent individuals. This year's attendees included Gov. Dave Heineman, Rep. Tom Osborne, Rep. Lee Terry, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and gubernatorial candidate Dave Nabity. University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken and his family were also in attendance.

Next year's ball will be June 3 in Milford, Neb. The event, which is open to the public, will be hosted by Bob and Marg Dickinson and the Midwest Feeding Company. Tickets can be purchased at Jones National Bank & Trust in Milford, phone 1-888-562-3602.

Chairpersons will be Ron and Annette Wallman and Doug and Gail Brand of Seward. For more information, visit the Web site at www.cattlemensball.com.

The Cattlemen's Ball is held each year to showcase rural Nebraska, promote beef in a healthy diet and raise money for health care research. The UNMC Eppley Cancer Center is the primary recipient of this fund-raising effort with 90 percent of the proceeds going toward cancer research programs at Eppley. The remaining 10 percent of the funds raised will stay in the local area and be used for health care activities.