More than 450 attend Cattlemen's Ball near Ashland
by Tom O'Connor, UNMC public affairs

There wasn't supposed to be a Cattlemen's Ball in 2003. However, tell that to the farmers and ranchers of Nebraska.
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Eppley Cancer Center Director Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., and his wife, Alison Freifeld, M.D., an associate professor of internal medicine-infectious diseases at UNMC. Event organizer Kae Pavlik, left, and James Shull, Ph.D., a program director at the Eppley Cancer Center.

"We (the Cattlemen's Ball Advisory Board) had decided to take the year off due to the drought and difficult economic conditions," said Kae Pavlik, one of the advisory board members and event organizers. "But, once the board made the decision not to have the event, the phone calls started to pour in (asking the board to reconsider its decision). We had no choice - we had to bring it back."

So, bring it back they did, albeit in a "mini" format. "We didn't have enough time to put together the typical Cattlemen's Ball, but we decided to at least hold a ranch party," Pavlik said.

The ranch selected was the Double D Farm of David and Dickie Fulkerson near Ashland, Neb., and more than 450 people attended the event on Saturday.

Attendees paid $100 each with proceeds going to the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center. Activities included a beef brisket barbeque, an auction and entertainment by Red Steagall, a cowboy poet and recording artist.
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Red Steagall, a cowboy poet and recording artist, entertained the more than 450 people in attendance. State Sens. Carol Hudkins, second from left, and Jim Jensen enjoyed the ball with their spouses, Larry Hudkins, left, and Joan Jensen.

"The UNMC Eppley Cancer Center really appreciates the continued support of the Cattleman's Ball Association of Nebraska," said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center. "Their generous support for cancer research has been very important and has helped in the growth of the cancer center over the past few years. By providing support for pilot projects in translational research in cancer, the funds raised by the Cattleman's Ball have helped develop new projects for novel approaches for cancer screening, treatment and prevention.

"The money raised through the ball is used to fund pilot studies in breast, lymphoma and pancreatic cancers. These are important studies that truly have the potential to make a difference in people's lives."

Among the dignitaries attending this year's ball were Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns, State Senators Jim Jensen and Carol Hudkins, and three members of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents - Chuck Hassebrook, Howard Hawks and Kent Schroeder.

Pavlik said final proceeds from this year's event are still being determined. As in past years, most of the proceeds will go to the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center, but a portion will be returned to the local community. This year, the Mead, Neb. rescue squad will be the beneficiary of the local contribution.

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Former NFL great Jay Novacek, who will host the 2004 Cattlemen's Ball, speaks with Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns and his wife, Stephanie. NU Regents Chuck Hassebrook, left, and Howard Hawks, middle, enjoyed the ball with student regent Casey Johnston, a UNMC medical student.

This was the sixth Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska. The previous five balls were held in Ainsworth, Lexington, Ogallala, Valentine, and Valparaiso areas. Last year's event raised $207,000 for cancer research at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center and $26,493 for health care needs in the Valparaiso area.

The 2004 Cattlemen's Ball will be held at the Upper 84 Ranch near Brady, Neb. and will be hosted by Jay Novacek, former Pro Bowl tight end for Dallas Cowboys.

Dr. Cowan said he and the rest of the cancer center look forward to the event each year.

"The Cattlemen's Ball has become a wonderful tradition at UNMC," he said. "Words really can't adequately express how grateful we are for the support we receive through the ball. The organizers of the ball put in countless hours each year and always produce a quality event. We feel totally honored to be associated with the Cattlemen's Ball and hope our association will continue for many years."

Date Published: Wednesday, June 4, 2003