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Fern benefit a 'success'

The Mike Fern Benefit drew an estimated 3,000 people who came to support the Fern Family. Pictured (from left) Joan Forsythe, Mike Fern's sister; Katie Evenson, Mike Fern's niece; and Nate Fern, Mike Fern's son. (Submitted Photos)1 / 5
Jeff Fern (son of Mike and Jody Fern) and Dani Brown enjoy the benefit. The benefit featured music by Boondoggle and Trigger Happy as well as a live auction and a silent auction, a meal and other entertainment.2 / 5
The Mike Fern benefit included many entertainment options, including a dunk tank (pictured), a mechanical bull and music by local bands Boondoggle and Trigger Happy.3 / 5
Jared Fern (left), son of Mike Fern, and Colleen Evenson (right)attended the Mike Fern benefit, Sunday, July 14 at St. Croix Central High School. Event organizers said the event was a total success.4 / 5
Jody Fern's coworkers from Purdy Family Dentistry came to support her at the benefit. Pictured from left are Kelly, Fern, Chelsie and Emily.5 / 5

A Sunday, July 14, benefit for former St. Croix Central coach Mike Fern, who has battled cancer for years, was deemed a success by event organizers.

Terri Jo Hartung, who organized the event with Lisa Hawkins, Tera Hinzman and Sue Frank, said the benefit exceeded her expectations.

"It went unbelieveable," she said. Hartung said she and her fellow event-coordinators had been expecting a large crowd.

"He has touched so many people's lives being a teacher, being a coach, being a mentor," Hartung said. "It's just such a huge, loving family that is respected so much by this community that we knew it was going to be busy from the time we started, until the time we ended."

The event featured a barbeque meal, music by local bands Boondoggle and Trigger Happy, kids games, a dunk tank, raffle tickets for a signed guitar, a mechanical bull, a live auction, a silent auction and a bake sale.

Frank and Sami Shemon also put together something special for the event.

"They put together an amazing DVD," Hartung said. "It started when Mike was a little boy, through his coaching years, just through to this point."

The DVD, a slideshow set to music, played on a large screen throughout the event.

Hartung, Hawkins Hinzman and Frank had the help of approximately 20-30 others in setting up the event. Hartung said putting the event together was a community effort.

The event was held at the St. Croix Central High School, in order to have enough space to accommodate the approximately 3,000 attendees, Hartung said.

Hartung said being a part of organizing the benefit, and seeing the outpouring of support for the Fern family, has been a very touching experience.

"Words can't explain that," she said. "They're going through a tough time in their life right now. We wanted to do this for a while and we were thrilled when they finally agreed to let us do it. Everybody pulled together. Everybody was wanting to do whatever it took to make this a success and it definitely was a success."

Hartung said the Fern family received so much support because they are such a caring and respected family.

"(They are) just everybody's friend(s)," Hartung said. "Everybody loves that family."

In addition to the community volunteers who helped make the event happen, Carbone's Pizza also volunteered to bring supper to the volunteers one night, while they were working on the benefit.

Hartung said the money raised will go to support the Fern family.

"It was a wonderful success for a wonderful family," Hartung said.

Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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