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Courtesy photo. Judy Stratman (right), director of development at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, is presented with a $30,000 check from Chuck and Rose Manitz (left), supporters of the annual “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive” fundraiser.

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Bobby H. Maldonado for the information in this story.)

St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea (SJMC) recently received a $30,000 check from Gary and Kerin Klapperich, organizers of the 9th annual “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive” fundraiser.

As in years past, funds raised from the event will support cancer services offered at the hospital.

“We are blessed to have the support of Gary and Karen and all the generous people who contributed their time and energy to this wonderful event,” said Nancy Graebner, president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea in a press release.

“It is inspiring to see friends and neighbors come together to support the fight against cancer,” she said.

To date, the event has raised $200,000 to benefit the SJMC Cancer Center.

The 16,500 square-foot center enables local residents to receive a wide range of cancer treatments, from surgery to chemotherapy and radiation, all under one roof, close to home.

As a member of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, SJMC’s Cancer Center also provides access to regional resources including clinical research trials, genetic counseling and CyberKnife® radiotherapy.

More than 10 years ago, Gary Klapperich, diagnosed with colon cancer, had successful cancer surgery at SJMC followed by chemotherapy at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

Courtesy photo. Gary and Kerin Klapperich, co-founders of the “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive” fundraiser, pose for a picture together at the ninth annual event held in August.

It was during the long hours of infusion that Gary kept his spirits up with the Travis Tritt tune, “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” and the name of the fundraiser was born.

When he learned that SJMC was raising funds to build an infusion center and then a full cancer center close to home, Gary, along with his wife Karin, made the decision to hold a fundraiser each year to benefit the new cancer center.

Working with the members of the Ann Arbor Fraternal Order of Eagles #2154, this event has become one of the largest three-day rummage sales in the area.

In addition to the rummage sale, the event includes silent and live auctions, raffles, bake sales, t-shirt and bracelet sales, 50/50 raffles, haircuts for charity, and a myriad of activities throughout the year, culminating in the event, which was held this year from Aug. 17-19.

“My wife Kerin and I were so appreciative of the cancer care I received years ago at St. Joe’s Chelsea that we wanted to do something to give back to the hospital,” said Gary Klapperich.

“We never could have imagined just how big this charity event would become,” he said, adding, “It has become a community effort and speaks to the impact St. Joe’s has had on individuals and families in our area.”

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