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Angels of Courage raises $55,000

In the year and a half since it was first incorporated as a non-profit organization, Angels of Courage Retreats has accomplished great things.

"We've made huge headway in just a little over a year," said executive director Carly Nelson, a Lake Park native who now makes her home in Fargo.

Nelson, a two-time cancer survivor who was diagnosed with lupus in 2001, co-founded Angels of Courage in April 2007 with fellow cancer survivor Don Goering.

From the partnerships formed with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and American Cancer Society to sponsor two new retreats this fall, to hiring their first full-time employee in May, the AOC board has been kept very busy, Nelson acknowledged.

And just this past weekend, on Saturday, Aug. 16, the organization's second annual fund raising event, "Run, Ride & Boogie," raised just over $55,000. This total included a dollar-for-dollar matching grant from Dakota Medical Foundation for all donations over $100, up to $25,000.

There were 91 registered participants in the 5K Run/Walk (not including non-registered children); 44 who took part in the Motorcycle Rally; and more than 75 volunteers available to assist them -- plus a little more than 200 people who took part in the eveningn of dancing that capped off the celebration.

"It went absolutely awesome this year," said Nelson, summarizing the event. The weather was beautiful, with sunshine and temperatures in the 80s -- last year it was pouring rain and 60 degrees.

"We had tons of community support out there, for both the 5K and the motorcycle rally," she continued. "And in light of economy and people pulling back on giving and being more cautious, I'm absolutely pumped with how much we raised."

Nelson also said there were a couple of lessons learned from this year's event, however: A more centralized location is needed, and the timing of the event needs to be moved back by a week, to avoid scheduling conflicts with other late summer events.

"Next year everything will be based out of the Detroit Lakes Pavilion," she added.

The organization is also looking to shift the focus of the annual event away from fund raising and make it more of an awareness-raising, volunteer appreciation type of celebration, according to Nelson.

Upcoming events sponsored by Angels of Courage retreats include a Adult Cancer Survivors Retreat, Sept. 26-28 at Fair Hills Resort (in partnership with the American Cancer Society); and a "Women with Multiple Sclerosis Retreat," Oct. 17-19 at Maplelag Resort in rural Callaway.

For more information about the organization, as well as how to sign up for one of the two fall retreats, visit the Web site at, or call 701-540-8840.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454