Bremer gives Avera fundraising major lift

MARSHALL – Bremer Bank and the Otto Bremer Foundation has brought fundraising for Avera’s new cancer institute to within $1 million of its groundbreaking goal.

The Otto Bremer Foundation awarded a grant for $200,000 to help fund the expansion of local cancer care, while the Marshall branch of Bremer Bank has donated $15,000 to the campaign.

“We’re obviously excited to get this,” said Avera Marshall Foundation Executive Director Marty Seifert. “This brings us closer to our goal by leaps and bounds. We’re going to be working very heavily this summer on grassroots fundraising to try to get ground broken this summer.”

The total donation of $215,000 is the second largest gift for the campaign.

“Bremer Bank very much appreciates Avera’s initiative to bring such a needed resource to families and individuals in our area,” Cindy Verschaetse, president/market manager for Bremer Bank, said in a news release Friday. “In the last month, I have experienced people traveling great distances to seek treatment, drive family members or care for those undergoing treatment. These activities take a huge toll on the cancer patient and their families. The cancer center is a much needed resource in this region, and Bremer is proud to be able to contribute through the Otto Bremer Foundation grant and our Bremer Bank donation.”

The Avera Foundation set a fundraising goal this past winter of $5.45 million, out of an estimated $12.95 million total cost of the Avera Cancer Institute Marshall. Avera’s funding plan includes a $7 million (plus interest) gift from the city previously set aside after the sale of the medical center from the city of Marshall to the Avera health system. The $7 million was earmarked for oncology program development when the change of ownership occurred three years ago.

Northstar Insurance of Cottonwood and State Bank of Taunton made contributions of $125,000 and $100,000, respectively, to kick off the major donation portion of fundraising. In April, the Schwan Food Co. committed $600,000 to the cancer center – the largest single donation ever given to the medical center from a business or family – through its Corporate Giving Foundation. D&G Excavating and the Brian and Kris Gruhot family contributed $75,000, and Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative donated $25,000. In May, Randy and Janel Wartner donated $25,000; First Independent Bank donated $50,000; and the Knochenmus Family donated $75,000. More recently, Swede Home Lutheran Church in Yellow Medicine County, with a congregation of 13, contributed $25,000.

Avera’s first goal is to raise the $11.35 million to get to groundbreaking. The overall goal of $12.95 million includes equipment replacement funding.

“We would love to be able to break ground this fall sometime,” said Seifert. “If we don’t get to the number we need to get to by mid- to late October, we might have to reassess things and wait until spring.”

The new cancer institute will be an addition to the existing medical center in Marshall and will provide services including radiation and chemotherapy.

The cancer institute’s core service area is Lyon and Lincoln counties, but Avera officials have said that having cancer care options in the region will benefit people from Lac qui Parle County to Cottonwood County, and from Redwood County to the South Dakota border.

Those wishing to donate, volunteer or find out more information about the Building Hope Capital Campaign for Avera Cancer Institute Marshall can contact Seifert at 507-537-9145.

Avera officials are currently working on somewhat of a phase two fundraising process to include reaching out to the general public to help cross the finish line. Seifert said donation plans can include spreading contributions out as much as five years.

“A lot of individuals and smaller businesses are doing that,” he said.