Let’s join in the fight to put an end to cancer

Published 10:05 am Thursday, June 25, 2009

A couple weeks ago my best friend Dan Budinger’s dad Al died. Al died of cancer.

Al was a great dad, and I was lucky enough to learn this because I was one of those kids who get adopted by the group of parents of all your best buddies. We had a great group of parents. We had Joe and Joannie Blemberg, Ron Nettell, my parents, and Al and Barb Budinger.

Al was quite the character and oh so nice. I always loved talking to Al about everything from hockey to camping to what we kids were up to. Al had a quiet confidence about him that I always looked up to and on those rare occasions when my buddies and I would — how would you say? — test the waters of parental patience, Al was always the one that sort of knew what we were up to, but understood that boys will be boys.

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Al would not let us get away with it, mind you, as he would somehow a day or two later, piece it into a conversation that would not be preachy, but smart and calculated.

Al was that way. He was very unassuming and that made him so approachable and easy to talk to. I think he got more out of all of us kids than we ever even realized. I called my best friend the day his dad died and we talked about Al’s qualities and what a great parent he was and how as a mentor and a father that Al was simply one of the good guys.

Al had been diagnosed with cancer several years ago and had gone through some experimental procedures to help slow it down as well as try to see if he could get it to go into remission. As with all cancer procedures, some work and some do not, and after a few years the cancer finally won over this great man. As I spoke to Dan, you could just hear the great loss in his voice, the sadness of losing a parent.

Cancer is nobody’s friend, and I just hate the fact that this disease robs us of so many great people. I cannot wait until a cure is found and that cancer is wiped off the face of our planet.

I continued on the phone to tell my buddy Dan that Al will always be watching over him and his beautiful family and that now, he has an angel in his corner.

Like most cancer patients, Al never said too much about his courageous battle, but being the wise person he always was, I bet he would say something such as: Enjoy the time you have with family, embrace every day and let’s go to the cabin.

Al, you will be missed.

Dan, my friend, I love you and it will get better.

Relay for Life

American Cancer Society’s Freeborn County Relay for Life is a great way to battle cancer. Last year we had 60 teams and this year we need more. The date is Friday, Aug. 14.

Some dates to remember about the relay are:

June 27: Northbridge Mall team fundraising day.

July 3: Third of July Parade. Organizers are still looking for teams who would like to walk in the parade.

July 9: Registration night.

July 27: Survivor ice cream social.

Aug. 10: Bank night.

One of my favorite people in the whole world is Mary Bartusek, the wife of the late Albert Lea Police Lt. Phil Bartusek, and she was named as honorary caregiver for this year’s event. Great job, Mary!

So stop reading my column and go get a team and get fundraising!

Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.