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Institute gets into fair mode

The Mower County Fair offers more than just pronto pups and rides this year.

A fair mainstay is trying to offer a little hope. Mower County 4-H is taking the opportunity to honor one of its own while helping out others.

For a $2 donation, fair-goers will receive a green wristband with the phrase "Plant a Seed" written on it, along with a heart and the name of Deb Schammel, a 4-H’er who died of cancer in July 2010. The donations will then be given to the Hormel Institute in Austin.

The 4-H club members are no strangers to service projects and have been doing a lot in conjunction with the Hormel Institute this year, said 4-H program coordinator Missy Koch.

"We have partnered up with them (the institute) this summer," Koch said. "Doing tours of the institute and fundraisers."


For Koch, the partnership was an obvious choice, as many of the people on the institute’s donor wall have 4-H connections.

"She loved 4-H and the kids," said Dedee Bergstrom, 4-H secretary, of Schammel, her friend. "We thought this was a good way to get rid of that darn disease."

Bergstrom said Schammel first had a bout with breast cancer, which she beat with a "really positive attitude," but when her cancer returned, it was in her bones.

"She really worked hard to beat it," Bergstrom said. "But it just had too much of a grip."

The institute also offered up a challenge to 4-H members: Come up with a meal or dish that's easy to prepare (30 minutes or less), limits processed foods and uses foods with cancer preventing compounds that the institute is researching. Some of the anti-cancer foods included broccoli, onions, cranberries and dark chocolate.

Lila Johnson, an 11th-grader, won the challenge with a dish that included peppers, tomato, eggplant and brown rice. Other participants, from third grade up, entered a variety of fruit smoothies.

The bracelets honoring Schammel and the food challenge entries are in the 4-H building on the north end of the Mower County Fairgrounds. There are also beakers for loose change donations in the eating area of the building. Proceeds go to the institute to fund cancer research.

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