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– Messenger photo by Jane Curtis

Linda Donner and event organizer Barb Michaels stand on the podium during the May 16 luncheon Monday at the Best Western Starlite Village.

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.

– Messenger photo by Jane Curtis

Leah Glasgo speaks at the May 16 luncheon Monday at the Best Western Starlite Village. The event convened again for the first time in two years, due to COVID. Its purpose is to raise funds for the Fighting Angels Abreast Dragon Boat team, which benefits cancer patients and survivors.

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.

– Messenger photo by Jane Curtis

Isabella Johnson is all dressed up for lunch on May 16 Monday at the Best Western Starlite Village in Fort Dodge.

Abby Jean Deal died on February 22, 2007.

Fifteen years ago.

– Messenger photo by Jane Curtis

Tom Donner, one of the organizers of the May Day luncheon to benefit the Fighting Angels Abreast Dragon Boat team, addresses those gathered Monday at the Best Western Starlite Village.

– Messenger photo by Jane Curtis

Barb Vonsak, of Fort Dodge, poses for a photo with Patsy Chalstrom, grandmother of Abby Deal, of Fort Dodge; Darci Mersch, Abby’s mother, of rural Clare; and Spencer Lara, of Fort Dodge. Abby Deal, who inspired the Fighting Angels Abreast Dragon Boat team, died in 2007.


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