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Record number take frigid plunge for Audrey's Purple Dream

Rachel Boughton celebrates her successful Purple Plunge into the icy waters of 11th Crow Wing Lake in Akeley during the 11th Annual Audrey’s Purple Dream fundraiser event on Saturday. A record 35 people took the frigid plunge. (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)1 / 5
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Tina Hickson of Akeley caught this 4-pound walleye during the Audrey’s Purple Dream fishing tournament Saturday on 11th Crow Wing Lake in Akeley. Tina said this is the first big walleye and once on the line the walleye took it slow. “We could see the fish swimming around the hole. My husband was standing over my shoulder. I was excited but I don’t think I was excited as him.” Hickson won the trophy for biggest fish. (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)3 / 5
Audrey’s Purple Dream supporters, from left, Jon Brown, Akeley; Dick Wahlin, Akeley; Robert Wagner, Nimrod; Chris Lafond, Akeley; and Eric Jumbeck of Benedict, along with dog Copper visit around the fire during Saturday’s fishing contest. (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)4 / 5
Scott Warnke of Akeley has participated in all 11 years of Audrey’s Purple Dream. “I’ve never won the contest but I’ve caught some fish,” he said. “I don’t mind ice fishing and I’m happy to support this.” (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)5 / 5

The total money raised at Audrey’s Purple Dream on Saturday in Akeley brought in just over $26,000. The amount was down from last year’s record $33,000 but according to organizer Shannah Geimer, “still a great year!”  The 11th annual event to benefit local families affected by cancer saw a record 35 people jump into the icy waters of 11th Crow Wing Lake in Akeley as part of the Purple Plunge. These brave souls raised just under $6,000.  

“I continue to be amazed and grateful at the support this event garners, even after all these years! Geimer said. “Akeley and our surrounding communities are blessed to have so many wonderful, giving people to support each other and give back to those in need.”  Geimer added, she is thankful to the “Dream Team” committee and all the people that help support the event.   “My mom’s spirit is kept alive in all that is accomplished with this organization and I just want to help as many people as we possibly can moving forward.”  

There were 317 people registered in the fishing tournament. Jack Tesch form Backus caught the 10th largest fish for the $1,000 prize.  The Ice Castle Fish House raffle winner was Jim Willford of Deer River.  Going into this 11th year Audrey’s Purple Dream has gifted approximately 90 people, with more than $80,000 distributed in the name of Audrey Pidde who died of cancer in 2005.  Audrey’s family and friends carry on her legacy with the event the past 11 years.  

Bev Mitchell of Nevis has participated each of the 11 years. On Saturday, she was in her fish house with daughter Tonya Grandstaff and grandchildren, Dylan, 4; and 9-month-old twins Declan and Harper.  “This is such a good cause,” Mitchell said. “The money stays here. We know a lot of people affected by cancer. We look forward to this every year and it’s so well put together.”  Doug Norland of Shokopee said he’s in his eighth or ninth year attending the event. He has family in the area and cancer has had a big impact on him.  

“I lost my grandma to cancer in 2004. I enjoy coming up her for this, knowing it’s going to a wonderful cause,” Norland said.  Norland’s sister also died of cancer just this past August at age 37.  “I lost my family to cancer and it’s very emotional. This touches the lives of a lot of people and helps many others.”  

Along with money raised at the fishing tournament and Purple Plunge the silent auction brought in $1,480 and the Akeley Ice Racers donated $330.  The Mystery Box winner was Tony Sauer. The $100 Money Vest winner was Denise Crandall, and the $1,000 Grand Prize winner for the Button drawing was Shane Sautbine of Walker. Paint the Town Purple Winners: 1st place - Chris Powers and Chelsea Buck 2nd Place - Bobbie Emery and John Wosika 3rd Place - Willy & Shelly Krotzer