Cruise For Cancer Raises Money for 3-Year-Old Battling Cancer

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: September 14, 2019 11:06 PM

The annual Cruise for Cancer event brought hundreds of people across the region together Saturday for a good cause.


The event is a fundraiser focused on giving back to a local family battling cancer. Hundreds of people drove across the Northland starting at  8 a.m. Saturday to participate in the fun event.

“The group donates $40 to get an event map and hit the spots to get a stamp. At the end of the day they turn in the map and get an event t-shirt,” said Rachel Netzel-Gustafson, a co-organizer of the Cruise for Cancer event.

There’s over 60 local restaurants, bars, hotels, car wash businesses and hardware stores across the Northland folks have to hit in Proctor, Hermantown, Superior, and more to get their stamp. For car enthusiasts, this event is a chance to show off their sweet ride in a fun environment.

"We're all doing it for one thing and that's to raise money for cancer. The family does what they want with that money,” said Ken Stroik, a longtime Cruise for Cancer participant.

Over 500 participants came together with their unique cars for the event. Participants stopped at Gary New Duluth in front of the Gary Kornerstore for a break where they socialized and showed off their cars.

“We have motorcycles, hot rods, muscle cars, cruisers, imports. It’s a car event unlike any other because it brings together different types of people and different types of vehicles. Most car events don’t do that, we bridge the gap here.” said Netzel-Gustafson.

Netzel-Gustafson said people don’t need a unique car to participate. She said as long as the car has tires, everyone is welcomed.

“It’s our first time doing it so it’s something different and completely unexpected. We see different spots and stuff and you meet new people,” said Lori Fimon, a first-time Cruise for Cancer participant.

Fimon drove all the way from Coon Rapids to participate in the event. She pulled up in a 1953 Willys Aero Ace. She said she participates in a lot of car shows.

“We met about 20 different people today and we’re getting together having fun and helping a little kid out,” said Fimon.

“We try to get to all the stops. It’s a fun event to get everyone together for a good cause,” said Stroik.

100 percent of the proceeds go to the chosen recipient family. This year, the event is helping beautiful 3-year-old Aria Johns from Bovey.

“She was diagnosed on April 1st with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and shortly after we found out she has a rare mutation that makes her odds of beating leukemia actually a lot less,” said Ryan Johns, Aria’s father.

This puts Aria’s chances of beating Leukemia at 50/50 percent instead of 85 to 90 percent. The Johns family has to travel to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities often to get a special treatment due to her rare mutation.

With help from the community, funds will go to continue helping Aria with the special treatment she needs to take, a study drug. The study drug is meant to help her odds of beating Leukemia increase.

“We were told that the study she is on, that she’s the only one in Minnesota on it. She will have to take it for the next two years. It’s quite a long road,” said Stacey Johns, Aria’s mother.

The unconditional support from the community showed at the event, and it’s a blessing to the Johns family who is in need of that extra help.

“It’s amazing and overwhelming. There are good people out there,” said Stacey.

“It’s been incredible, the warm reception and welcome to the family. I’m overwhelmed with everyone’s generosity and how kind all these people are,” said Ryan.

“So much money is raised in a short amount of time. It shows how our community can give back in a big way,” said Netzel-Gustafson.

Last year, the event raised $24,000. If you want to help the Johns family, click here.


Alejandra Palacios

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