So many events have been put on the back burner during the pandemic, and the annual May Day luncheon benefiting the Fighting Angels Abreast Dragon Boat team was no different.
But on Monday, despite the two-year hiatus and the rising cost of just about everything, there they were: the (mostly) women who have been the backbone of the event raising funds for helping breast cancer patients and survivors, and a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team filling the ballroom at the Best Western Starlite Village Inn & Suites, ready to support the annual cause once again.
It was lunch on May 16, Deb Johnson of Fort Dodge reminded the crowd. She was honest when she suggested that because there had been this two-year hiatus, organizers had wondered if fans would return.
They did it.
With the award-winning Iowa Central rugby team circulating the bubbly, the show went on as if the pandemic could be forgotten.
Indeed, when Leah Glasgo, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health – Fort Dodge, took to the podium to speak, she mentioned that she had considered talking about COVID. Then she decided we were tired of hearing about it, she said.
The audience applauded.
What Glasgo talked about is what it called a ripple, the tiny waves of energy that emanate from those affected by cancer, or simply caring enough to take action. People at the Starlite Ballroom were part of that wave, she said.
In that ripple were Darci Mersch and Patsy Chalstrom, Abby Deal’s mother and grandmother, respectively. At this annual event, she is remembered because, as organizers Barb Michael and Tom Donner pointed out on Monday, there wouldn’t be a Fighting Angels Abreast Dragon Boat team if Abby Deal didn’t have them. rush to move forward.
It was a team she would never paddle for.
Abby Jean Deal died on February 22, 2007.
Fifteen years ago.