Geneva Cancer Auction raises $72,000

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Geneva Cancer Auction hosted earlier this month raised another $72,000 toward the fight against cancer, pushing the amount raised during the last 25 years of operation to about $935,000.

“It’s been a wonderful 25 years for us,” said Whitey Hagen, the event’s organizer. “I know the whole community is proud of the auction and the cause. Cancer strikes just about everyone in every family in some way, so I think it helps to support.”

All money raised goes through the Albert Lea Eagles to the Eagles Cancer Telethon based out of Rochester. The donated money is used for cancer research at several universities in the state.

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“I think everybody would like to see a cure for it tomorrow,” Hagen said. “I think most of the people who support the Geneva Cancer Auction feel that they can help by donating to cancer research.”

The auction began in 1985 when Geneva Liquor Store owner Hank Thompson asked him if he wanted to start up the auction at his business. He agreed, and the rest is history, Hagen said.

The first year, the auction raised a little more than $5,000, but it has grown tremendously since. The most it has ever raised in any given year was last year, he said.

Some of the highlights over the years have included homemade cinnamon rolls, other baked goods and quilts made in memory of loved ones, Hagen said.

Three years ago, the auction also started selling Geneva Cancer Auction coins for $10 as a memento.

Out of all of the coins each year there are three silver ones — one that is auctioned off, one that is kept by the Geneva Cancer Auction and one that is given to the person who designed the coin.

There’s also been lots of raffles, including some for quilts, some for larger prizes and even some for money.

“You name it, and we’ve probably sold it,” Hagen said during an interview before the auction earlier this month.

This year, there were hearts made to put up on the wall, and one man paid $1,100 to get one for his wife, who is in remission from cancer, he said.

Hagen issued a thank you for all the support the auction has gotten during the last 25 years.

“The community has really grabbed hold of this thing,” he said. “They’re just behind it 110 percent, and that’s what it’s all about.”

He said he and his wife, LaJune, want to thank everyone who helped or donated during the auction.

“Without everyone we couldn’t have reached this total,” he said.

There are a few remaining items from the auction that still have to be sold, and Hagen said he anticipates having a mini-auction to sell those sometime in April.

The money raised from those remaining items will go toward next year’s fund.