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Polka dot fundraiser successful

More than $1,000 has been raised for cancer research by selling polka dots to place on Julie Bethel’s Chevy Blazer. (Nick Longworth / Enterprise)

By Nick Longworth

The polka dots continue to grow in numbers, but there’s still room on the bumpers.

Julie Bethel, mother to Cole, who will be an 8th grader this fall in Park Rapids, has been driving around her Chevy Blazer the last couple months in an effort to raise money for cancer. Selling polka dots as a fundraiser to raise awareness, their campaign together has been a successful one.

Cole is no stranger to cancer. He is a 13-year survivor of Neuroblastoma cancer. He is now cancer free but lives with side effects every day.

He has Horner’s Syndrome, which is a dilation of the eye. He has Harlequin Syndrome, which is where he sweats only on one side of his body; in winter he gets really cold on his left hand and really warm on his right. In the summer he will have a predominant stripe down his face and be red on one side and white on the other. He also has a learning disability called executive dysfunction disorder where his brain doesn’t compartmentalize information efficiently the way a typical brain does.

“He has been a part of the Relay for Life the past 13 years,” Julie said. “This year, being the 20th year for Relay for Life, he wanted to give something additional back to something that has helped him become who he is today. So he came up with the idea to polka dot my car for cancer.”

Although short of their initial goal, Julie remains optimistic that their efforts have made a difference.

“I had wanted to sell 1,000 polka dots, which would be close to $5,000. I did just over 1/5 of that,” Julie said. “I am still really happy with that because one never knows which dollar will be given that will find the cure.”

Thankful for the support the community has shown, both Cole and Julie plan to be at the Relay for Life event in Park Rapids this Friday, June 13 at the Park Rapids Area High School track from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Teams will walk the track while raising money to help end cancer.

Half of the proceeds that the Bethels raise will go to the Relay for Life in Park Rapids (at which Cole will be presenting a check) and the other half will be sent to the Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo. Specifically, it will go to supporting and comforting those receiving treatment for cancer under Dr. Nathan Kobrinsky – Cole’s doctor.

Luminaria can be purchased before and during Friday’s Relay for Life and then displayed as a symbol of hope for those currently struggling with cancer and in remembrance of those who have lost the battle. Special yellow luminaria are displayed in a prominent place to thank caregivers for being there during a cancer survivor’s journey. The Hope and Cure luminaria will be lit during the 7 p.m. program. New this year, all caregivers who would like to walk the first lap should register at the registration table in the campsite area.

Everyone is invited to attend. No one has to be on a team to participate. During the 12-hour event, come out enjoy a fun day, walk the track, visit with friends, enjoy the carnival-like atmosphere, with entertainment, food and games being provided at the team campsites.

For more information about Cole’s journey and the polka dot fundraiser or to donate, go to

Nick Longworth
A graduate from St. Cloud State University, Nick photographs and writes a variety of stories for nearly every section of The Park Rapids Enterprise. His duties also include section layouts and online content submission.
(218) 732-3364