In 20 years, Paint the Town Pink tops $1M mark
Eunice Coughlin would be proud.
The fundraising event she started 20 years ago with family members – and a handmade quilt for a grand prize – passed the million-dollar mark last weekend.
Coughlin’s first event raised $1,700 to donate to the annual Eagle’s Cancer Telethon, held in Rochester. It was never intended to become a yearly tradition in Blooming Prairie, but “they made me out to be such a hero,” Coughlin said at the time, that she did it again.
The following year, it was $6,400.
It’s never stopped growing.
Coughlin began the fundraising as a way to honor her daughter, Darla, who died of cancer in 2000. She passed the torch to others in the community after the 2003 event.
This year, the Blooming Prairie Cancer Group auction raised $22,000 alone on Friday night, said organizer Cheri Krejci. They raised $53,000 over both nights.
“I think it’s very safe to say we broke our Paint Blooming Prairie Pink (one-year) record,” she said Monday.
Krejci estimated about 200 people turned out each night – but emphasized the help comes from everywhere.
“I just want to thank all of the people who donate, the ones who buy things, the kids at school – they help us with the Field of Flags,” she said. Then there’s the Ellendale Fire Department, which gave the group a check for $5,000.
The auction continues to be the big draw, thanks to tradition and generosity.
“Sue Helgeson – she’s kind of a famous baker – her white chocolate/raspberry two-layer cake sold for $500,” Krejci said.
A replica Blooming Prairie pedal fire truck that lights up made its third appearance, after it was first sold several years ago.
“It keeps coming back,” Krejci said. “That same fire truck has brought in lots of money.”
The highest-ticket item was a trip to Ft. Myers, Fla., that went for $1,900.
In between bids Friday and Saturday was a chance to donate $40 parking passes for Saint Marys Clinic parking, and $50 gas cards. Those items are part of the Community Fund, and are given to patients and families who are receiving treatment and incurring extra expenses.
The fund collected enough to purchase 36 parking passes and 51 gas cards.
One more thing: In this year of milestone numbers, Coughlin would have turned 100. She died, of cancer, in 2008.