NU woman raising funds for LLS

NEW ULM – A New Ulm woman described as “compassionate, strong, fun-loving and family-oriented” by her campaign team is competing in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year campaign to raise funds for blood cancer research, patient services, education and advocacy.

Allina Health Home Care and Hospice Manager Amber Faulstick Melby, who has participated in several cancer research fund-raising events, is participating in LLS’s Climb for the Cure this year. Her interest in the campaign is heightened in January 2013 when her best friend Julie’s three-year-old son Cole “Coley Bear” McDonough was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

After eight months of intensive chemotherapy, the young boy’s cancer is in remission, but he was recently hospitalized after running a fever. He will continue chemotherapy treatments until May 2016. Meanwhile, he enjoys playing Star Wars with his big brother Chase. He also likes toy cars, movies, popcorn, playing with his brother and friends and reading books.

Nominated to compete in the LLS Woman of the Year campaign as the only state woman outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, Melby said she and Julie Hand McDonough of Plymouth were best friends since they were young children.

The women later played together on the Emmetsburgh, Iowa High School girls basketball team that won a state championship. McDonough attended Iowa State University, where she played women’s basketball, while Melby went to Morningside College in Sioux City.

“I just couldn’t turn this down. We played hundreds of basketball and volleyball games together,” Melby said. “Now, we’re running road races, completing in duathlons and triathlons and doing other fund-raising efforts together and with others (on Team Coley Bear) for LLS.”

Last month, the women sold coffee, hot chocolate and team bracelets at the annual St. Patrick’s Parade in Emmetsburg. They recently raced 10k (6.2 miles) for Team Coley Bear, in and around Harriet Island in Minneapolis, raising $10k for LLS.

Melby is one of 13 Minnesota male and female LLS Man & Woman of the Year contestants. Her goal is raise $50,000. At the Thursday, April 10, 2014 benefit at the B&L Bar, she hopes to raise $1,500 selling bracelets, holding an auction and playing games. Prizes include tickets to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater, a gift certificate at the Splendid Nest store in downtown New Ulm, a wireless sound system, Starbuck’s Espresso maker, and an Electrolux cordless hand vacuum, among other things.

Melby said she has experienced first-hand the debilitating effects cancer can have on those that suffer from it and on friends and family who care for and nurture their loved ones. Every four minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer. Every 10 minutes, someone loses their battle. Leukemia is the leading cause cancer deaths for children and adults under age 20, according to the LLS.

One dollar equals one vote. Campaign winners will be announced at the Blood Drop Ball, May 16, 2014 in Minneapolis. For more information including making donations to Melby’s fund-raising efforts, visit www.mwoy.org/pages/mn/MN14/amelby

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com

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