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Festival of Hope celebrates 15 years

The 15th annual Festival of Hope was held at the Scotts Bluff Fairgrounds in Mitchell on Saturday, June 17.

The event included a 5K fun run and children’s run, along with a variety of entertainment, food and the reading of names from the “Wall of Hope,” and a bake sale.

“Cassie Lapesotoes and I have put together the Bridgeport Bake Sale,” said Jack Berg, a coordinator for the bake sale and chairman of the board of Festival of Hope. “We get a really good turnout from the town of Bridgeport, and the rural areas and even Bayard baking items for the sale.”

Berg’s wife Deanna, passed away from cancer in 2010.

“My wife just before she passed away got to come to her first festival,” he said. “I’ve been involved with it (Festival of Hope) ever since.”

Festival of Hope is a non-profit and not only gives people like Berg a way to give back and remember their loved ones, but its primary mission is to assist people and families dealing with cancer financially.

“The lion’s share goes to patients and families,” said Dr. Vince Bjorling, an advisory member of the board for Festival of Hope. “We do have some clinical research locally and through NCI affiliated cancer treatment centers in Omaha and Denver. Along with supporting some education of people looking to go into oncology, but most goes to the patients.”

Bjorling said the festival paid out $260,000 last year to patients and families.

“It’s a huge deal to be able to find assistance, when you are undergoing the stress of cancer treatment,” he said. “With help (from the Festival of Hope) they can concentrate on the disease  and not have to worry about how to pay for food or getting the power shut off.”


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