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Audrey’s Purple Dream to benefit cancer

People attend Audrey’s Purple Dream each year to cheer on those who participate in the Purple Plunge. (Enterprise file photo)

By Nick Longworth

During a typical long Minnesota winter, many people can spend hours fishing in the same old spot, day after day, never leaving the same hole in the ice.

On Saturday, Feb. 8 the Audrey’s Purple Dream foundation is asking you to switch up your routine, for a great cause.

The 9th annual “our answer to cancer” fishing tournament and polar plunge will be held on 11th Crow Wing Lake in Akeley, providing food and entertainment while also supporting those suffering from cancer or in need.

Along with the contest and plunge, drawings will be held for numerous different prizes donated by local businesses, as well as, one final $900 grand prize.

“It’s a fundraiser for the fishing tournament and we also do a polar plunge, which we call the “Purple plunge.” If you buy a $2 button then your name gets entered into a drawing. We get donations from a bunch of area businesses and usually we have around 100 different prizes from businesses in Akeley, Walker, Nevis, Hackensack, Park Rapids and all the surrounding communities,” said Shannah Geimer, President of the board of directors for the Audrey’s Purple Dream foundation.

The Audrey’s Purple Dream foundation is a local cancer fund under the parent umbrella of the Walker Art Foundation. Through donations and fundraising events, the foundation re-distributes whatever wealth they accumulate back to those in the community suffering from cancer, or otherwise in need.

It all started with a dream Shannah’s mother, Audrey, had to travel to Alaska before her death.

“When (my mother) got cancer her dream was to take a trip to Alaska before she passed away. Her friend, Melissa Niblick, came up with the idea that we should have a fundraiser and a fishing tournament to get her to there. We had the very first fundraiser and raised almost $10,000. She unfortunately passed away before she was able to take the trip, but the money helped our family out so much with bills and everything. Before she passed away, she said it was a really cool event and it would be really great if we were able to do this for other people every year too,” Geimer said.

“After she passed away, some friends and family talked about it and began to decide how we would pick who to give the raised money to every year. We decided if we started a foundation, that we could put out an application and then different people could apply for funds; we could kind of spread the wealth,” Geimer said.

“Now people apply to us all the time. We give out as much money as we can to each person. We never know how many applications we are going to get, so we try to kind of spread the wealth so that we have enough money that we can give something to each application.”

Each application, which can be printed off of the foundation’s website, is individually reviewed by the Audrey’s Purple Dream foundation board of directors for careful consideration, ultimately determining the amount of support needed.

“All of the money goes to local people who are battling cancer. They can fill out an application and say if they have any last dream, or if they want to make some sort of last trip to see family. It’s kind of like the “make a dream” foundation, but on a much smaller scale. They can tell us what their situation is and then the board of directors reviews all applications and we decide on what our funds are and how much money we are able to give. We look at each situation and vote to disperse the funds to the people,” Geimer said.

The Audrey’s Purple Dream foundation does a motorcycle fun run the last Saturday in July and also a couple of others smaller-sized events around the Akeley community. All of the proceeds from the events go directly to those suffering from cancer and to those in need.

“Every fundraiser that we do, all of that money goes into the fund (for people) except for our expenses for advertising; all of the money goes to the actual people there. (The fishing tournament and polar plunge) is the biggest fundraiser of the year that we do,” Geimer said.

The fishing tournament prize will be 80 percent of what’s collected, up to $1,000. Geimer said $1,000 is typically the prize and it’s for the third largest fish caught. Usually there are also about 20 different prizes that get donated to us as well,” Geimer said.

Basic food offerings will be made available during the tournament and plunge including hot dogs, chili dogs, pop, water, coffee and chips. Later that night a more full-course offering will be available at the Akeley VFW, where the raffle will also be held.

“They don’t have a kitchen out on the ice, so at the VFW there will be a hot beef or hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy and desserts offered. It’s usually around six or seven dollars a plate and one or two of those dollars gets donated to the foundation as well,” Geimer said.

Overall Geimer sees great merit in the foundation she helped create. She hopes it will only continue to become more and more popular.

“Everything supports a great cause. I think everybody has been touched by cancer in some way, shape or form. All the money you see stays local. We’re not the American Cancer Society and we’re not spending money on all the administrative costs that they have. The money stays in the community. It’s a really feel-good cause and people really like to support us, so it gets better every year,” Geimer said.

For up-to-date information, Geimer recommends checking the foundation’s website,, the days leading up to the event for accurate prize information.

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.
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