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Courtesy photo.

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(Chelsea Update would like to thank Laura Blodgett for the information and photos in this story.)

On Sept. 30, Carole and Howdy Holmes, co-chairs of the St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea (SJMC) Branching Out Capital Campaign, were presented with a $25,000 check from Gary and Karin Klapperich, organizers of the “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive” fundraiser.

In its sixth year, the event has raised $120,000 to date to benefit the new Cancer Center under construction at Chelsea hospital. When complete, the new 16,500-square-foot cancer center will enable 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 will also provide access to regional resources including clinical research trials, specialized breast health services such as genetic counseling, and CyberKnife® radiotherapy.

Over six years ago, Gary Klapperich, diagnosed with colon cancer, had successful cancer surgery at SJMC followed by chemotherapy at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.  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 Gary 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 two-day rummage sales in the area. Along with the rummage sale, the event includes silent and live auctions, raffles, entertainment, bake sales, T-shirt and bracelet sales, 50/50 raffles, a dunk tank, hair cutting for charity, and a myriad of activities throughout the year, culminating in the two-day event, held this year on Aug. 15-16.

“Although Karin and I tend to be the spokespeople for this event, it would not be possible without the hours and hours of time donated by members of the Eagles,” Klapperich said in a press release. “They have embraced us and this event and share our passion to bring cancer care closer to home.  We cannot thank them enough for making this event so successful.”

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