Photo by Nichi McDonald
Callie Thundercloud wows the crowd with her floor routine.
GET gymnastics annual event grows by leaps and bounds
Plenty of people walk for a cure. Some run, sporting pink from head to toe, sprinting through annual events to raise awareness and funds for cancer research and other needs. But through the month of February, girls from as far away as Michigan will head to western Wisconsin ready to jump, twirl and flip for a cure, at an annual event that has already raised more than $25,000 for cancer causes.
The Galesville-Ettrick-Trempealeau (GET) Area Gymnastics Co-op and Blue Angels Gymnastics Club are hosting an expanded event this year, raising money for both the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Gundersen and Mayo Health systems pediatric oncology departments. First, GET will host a high school meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 4, to include more than a dozen teams from Minnesota and Wisconsin. On Sunday, the Midwest Amateur Association Blue Angels Flip Invite will begin at 9:30 a.m. featuring the talents of young women from across the region, and February 18 and 19 the Amateur Athletic Union Invite will bring girls all the way from Michigan, kicking off at 8:30 a.m. both days.
It all started about six years ago, when a friend the community, Valeri Jostad, passed away after a breast cancer diagnosis at age 36. That year, the gymnasts raised funds at the event to start a bracelet fundraiser to raise money for cancer charities, and the Flip for a Cure event has grown and grown ever since. This year, money will be raised with the bracelets and hair bands for the foundation, and a Chinese raffle will raise funds for the pediatric department. GET coach LeaAnn Bohn, a breast cancer survivor herself, said that the event helps spread awareness among young women, as well as helping them give back.
“I am a survivor because of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy, but mostly because of my own early self-prognosis and awareness,” she said. “I work with and interact with hundreds of girls and women every year through gymnastics. These gymnasts will either personally face breast cancer or know someone who will face it. We hope to educate and save lives.”
Bohn, who is also a paraeducator at GET High School, wore her head uncovered by any hats or other adornments when chemotherapy robbed her of her locks as a way to show kids not to be afraid, encouraging them to ask questions about her illness.
The funds raised for the pediatric oncology department, said Bohn, will help kids fighting cancer, providing for things to help them feel comfortable and enjoy themselves while going through such a tough battle at a young age. “It was hard enough as an adult to go through chemo and treatment,” said Bohn. “I cannot imagine how little kids keep so upbeat [while] going to treatments, especially when they don’t understand some of the reasons why they need the medicine, why they are losing their hair, why they cannot go out and play. So [the event allows] us to be able to get them toys and electronics in there that they can play with and enjoy, to forget for a little while what they are going through.”
So far, the Flip for a Cure events have raised more than $25,000 for cancer causes, while also teaching young women about breast and other cancers, and about how to be aware and supportive of those who struggle with the disease.
A separate raffle will be held during each day of the meets, and T-shirts will also be for sale for folks who would like to donate to the cause.
Those who would like to donate can contact Bohn at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 608-582-FLIP (3547).