My favorite fundraiser returns

Sometime either today or Saturday, I’m going to drive to Appleton to … drive cars.

This is the weekend for my favorite fundraiser, Bergstrom Automotive’s Drive for the Cure. Bergstrom’s Victory Lane dealership will have 100 cars for test-driving, and Bergstrom will donate $1 for every mile driven to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Bergstrom’s Drive for the Cure began when Enterprise Motorcars hosted BMW’s Susan G. Komen event back in the 1990s. (The nicest car I’ve ever driven was from that event, a BMW 540i six-speed that was both smooth and fast.) BMW dropped the event in the late 2000s, but Bergstrom picked it up.

Breast cancer research is a personal issue for me, but it should be a personal issue for any man. Every year, Marian University’s men’s hockey team does its own breast cancer fundraiser by wearing pink uniforms for a game.

The mother of the Marian men’s coach was treated for breast cancer. As the coach put it, it doesn’t take too much thought for a man to figure out how many women are in his life. Every man has, or had, a mother and grandmothers. Some have sisters, aunts and female cousins. Many have wives or female “significant others.” Many have daughters. Most have female neighbors or coworkers. Given that and the fact that 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s not hard to see how breast cancer will affect any man’s life.

My mother was diagnosed in 1988. Her diagnosis was a shock because she had basically none of the risk factors — no family history anyone was aware of, she wasn’t overweight, she didn’t smoke or drink to excess, and she had no diet or exercise issues. With her lymph node involvement, a doctor later told her she had a 22 percent chance of surviving five years, and that was before she was unable to finish chemotherapy because it made her too ill.

Since 1988, my mother has gotten to see her sons graduate from college, her and my father’s retirements, one of her sons get married, her three grandchildren, and their 50th wedding anniversary. (There’s a message in there somewhere about odds.) She was also the third woman (that I know of) on the street where I grew up that had breast cancer.

I’ve taken part in the Bergstrom Drive for the Cure every year I’ve been able to. Last year’s was an interesting experience because of the darkening skies to the north (at 3:30 p.m.) as I took the last car out. I imagined trying to explain huge hail dimples on this brand new Volvo station wagon, but thankfully I didn’t have to. (However, the flooding in the Bergstrom parking lot from the torrential rain demonstrated why ground clearance is useful.)

The driving takes place today and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. And free food is included.

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