|From left: Caroline Siems, Marie Woerdemann and Helen Young lost three of their siblings to lung cancer and are praying for a fourth sister who was recently diagnosed. The trio recently attended the Cattlemen's Ball to help raise money for cancer research.|
"Oh, c'mon, stand up," said Marie Woerdemann to her sisters Caroline, sitting on her right, and Helen Young on the left.
The three stood, each wiping the tears from their eyes with a white paper napkin.
"Did you lose someone to cancer?" A woman sitting across the table from Caroline asks.
"Yes," she says, shaking her head up and down and dabbing the tears running down her cheeks with the paper napkin.
The Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska takes on special meaning for Caroline, Marie and Helen.
2007 Cattlemen's Ball
"They think they caught it early enough," Caroline says.
"I just hope that someday they raise enough money so that we can have a cure for cancer," says Marie, the oldest of the 10 siblings.
After missing out on buying tickets last year, Caroline, Marie and Helen made sure they got their tickets to the 2006 Cattlemen's Ball early. "I just figured there would be tickets left for the volunteers and waited too long to buy them," Marie said.
"And that ball was practically in your back yard," Caroline replied, referring to the 2005 ball held in Wisner, Neb., where Marie lives. Caroline, who lives in Clearwater, and Helen, who lives in Plainview, Neb., joined their older sister in praising this year's ball.
"We've had a great time," Helen said.
|The child-size picnic tables Molly Dickinson hand-crafted to auction at the Cattlemen's Ball were a hit with 2-year-old Zane Kreikemeier. Zane is the son of Jeff and Wanda Kreikemeier of Dodge, Neb.|
The ball, now in its eighth year, is a fundraiser for the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center. Ten percent of the proceeds raised at each ball go to local health agencies in or near the host community, with the remaining 90 percent going to the cancer center. More than $1.4 million has been raised for cancer research in the seven previous years the ball has been held.
The 2005 ball raised $600,000 for cancer research and the total dollar amount raised this year might exceed that amount, Dickinson told the crowd of 3,500 who had assembled in the main event tent for dinner. If so, total funds generated by the Cattlemen's Ball since 1999 could top the $2 million mark.
Each ball is held in a different community in rural Nebraska and features several silent and live auctions, a style show and cancer screenings by volunteers from UNMC.
|Dr. Ken Cowan with, from left, nurses Dawn Meisinger and Lisa Baker and nurse practitioner Kathleen McConnell. During the Cattlemen's Ball, the nursing team performed more than 130 PSA tests on men and screened more than 450 people for skin cancer at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center screening tent.|
"The Cattlemen's Ball is vitally important to the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center. Each year the money raised at the Cattlemen's Ball provides support for cancer research at the cancer center, which is especially important now that federal research funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute are actually declining for the first time in 30 years," said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Eppley Cancer Center. "The Cattlemen's Ball also provides an opportunity for the cancer center to reach rural Nebraskans and increase awareness about the benefits of cancer research."