Fools Five Road Race a full circle moment for Chatfield family
Meela Hoover "wouldn't be alive today if we didn't have that continued research," her mom, Lisa, said ahead of the race that is part of a fundraiser for cancer research.
LEWISTON, Minn. — Growing up in Lewiston, Lisa Hoover and her family were always involved in Fools Five events, like the Friday night auction and the classic car show.
The annual events to raise money for cancer research held a lot of importance for Hoover for much of her life: Hoover’s brother, Joey, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1990, when Hoover was 5 years old.
And, on Saturday, April 1, 2023, Hoover was the speaker, along with Crystal Eide of the Caleb Eide Memorial Foundation, ahead of the road race, which saw 1,203 participants from 11 states. It was a full circle moment for her, back in her hometown to talk about Joey’s battle, but, most recently, that of her daughter, Meela.
On March 3, 2017, Meela was diagnosed with B cell leukemia. The treatment was a long and hard road for the now-third-grader at Chatfield Elementary. Usually, doctors want kids with leukemia to be in remission within the first month, Hoover said. But Meela wasn’t, so she was bumped up to high risk.
After more intense treatment and lots of hospital stays, Meela entered remission in June 2019.
The Hoover family received support during Meela’s treatment, including from Eide, who reached out to the family in 2017 ahead of the foundation’s annual golf tournament. Eide wanted Meela to be one of the beneficiaries of the money raised from that event.
Meela also rode in the police car that leads the Fools Five road race participants, and she went to Disney World on a Make-a-Wish trip.
None of those opportunities would’ve been possible without the money raised for cancer research.
“Without that research, and new chemo and stuff … leukemia was pretty much a death sentence 60 years ago for kids,” Hoover said. “She wouldn't be alive today if we didn't have that continued research. It's just such an important, important thing that they do every year, and it just means a lot.”
This year, $90,000 will be donated to research from this weekend’s events, including $25,066.50 raised by Lewiston-Altura students.
That money will be donated to ensure that additional, improved treatments for cancer exist, so more people like 9-year-old Meela beat cancer.
“She loves to dance, and play volleyball. She’s a girly girl. She just is always dancing, singing. She loves staying busy, and her friendships mean a lot to her,” Hoover said. “She just had so much grace and so much strength through treatment. Even when she wasn't feeling good, she was always smiling.”