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Fundraiser makes record $75K 'Splash'

The Avera Queen of Peace Foundation certainly made a "Splash" last week. Foundation Director Tracy Pardy said last Friday's seventh annual Splash of Spirits fundraiser netted about $75,000.

"I'm still in disbelief," she said. "I'm still overwhelmed with the generosity of our friends in the Mitchell region."

She said the most the event raised any other year was $41,000. This year brought in $45,000 just in cash donations.

During the "fund a mission" portion of the live auction, Pardy said, the auctioneer opened up bidding, asking for straight donations.

He started at $5,000 and worked his way down.

The call for bids followed an emotional video featuring local cancer survivors and an appearance by those same survivors onstage.

"I was not ready to see people raise their bid paddles (for $5,000)," Pardy said. "I about fell out of my chair. And people just kept going and going."

Pardy said it's confirmation that the changes made surrounding the event were the right ones -- mainly, to put the focus on cancer patients.

"The biggest thing that we changed is we made it more personal, and we focused on our mission," she said. "We made sure the focus of Splash was about cancer survivors, about those people who have lost their battle with cancer and about how we can come together as a community to raise awareness about this disease. The wine, the beer, the food -- that was extra."

All of the money raised goes to the cancer care fund of the Avera Queen of Peace Foundation, Pardy said. The fund is used to help provide free cancer screenings, which, as in the case of Rob Marchand, one of the night's featured cancer survivors, can save a life.

"What an impact," Pardy said. "(Donors) all helped us in our mission to help screen people of Mitchell ... to help save peoples' lives."

For those who missed the sold-out Splash event, there is still a chance to help cancer patients.

"You can still make a donation if you want, and it can still go in the cancer care fund," she said.