His mom had colon then uterian cancer, his father had colon cancer. His mother-in-law had breast cancer and he, Greg Peterson of Plymouth, has been living six years free of prostate cancer.
So how can cancer become something that you don't just survive? Peterson and many others like him have found a way.
The way is a little like paying it forward. It's helping others with cancer who are struggling. As a volunteer for the fundraising sale Angel's Attic, Peterson has been able to help a locally-driven charity, the Angel Foundation.
He is one of more than a 100 volunteers who are helping out with the sale, with proceeds to benefit the Angel Foundation. The Foundation provides financial assistance for non-medical basic needs such as food, gas, utilities and rent or mortgage payments and offers education and support at no cost through its Facing Cancer Together program to help adults with cancer and their families live life well with stability, strength and resilience.
To support the Foundation, for the past three years, Angel's Attic, an all-volunteer community fundraiser, has been held at different locations throughout the metro, St. Louis Park, Bloomington, and now Plymouth.
Each location has been donated space. The Four Seasons mall property is owned by Walmart, which donated the space for the sale this year happening this Saturday, Oct. 13, through Wednesday, Oct. 17. The former mall is located off Highway 169 at Rockford Road. You can see the mall from Highway 169.
Though the sale is only a few days, the work put into filling nearly 90,000 square feet of space with new and slightly used items is a year-long process. All items sold are donated from stores, businesses and estate sales. Even the food for volunteers is donated by local businesses.
Angel's Attic founders and co-chairs Kay Melemed of Minnetonka and Judy Kauffman of Golden Valley have been working long days to make the sale work for each year. Both have been working for years with the World's Largest Garage Sale benefitting the American Cancer Society before their support evolved to Angel's Attic.
Kauffman grew up doing the volunteer work with her family who had been involved with helping out the ACS for years. So many of the volunteers working at this year's Attic sale have been doing it for so long they don't need to be told twice what needs to get done.
"Everyone knows their task," Kauffman said. "The volunteers are fabulous and very, very dedicated. We have great volunteers who come from all over."
Kauffman and Melemed split up duties to get everything done in preparation for the yearly sale in October. Each year thousands of people have flocked to find bargain deals on new and estate sale items that range in prices.
Bringing together donations for not just the sale, but for supporting the volunteers is great job for Marcia Wertheimer of Golden Valley. Wertheimer works with several others to provide food for all the volunteers working long hours during the sale and to celebrate their work at the end of the sale with a banquet for volunteers.
"This is a good cause," Wertheimer said. "The people who do this are so warm and everyone here have good hearts, are good people and are helping a good cause."
Connie Posl of Maple Grove helps Wertheimer with the banquet and food gathering as well as in different areas of the sale. She said she has been impressed with the stories she's heard on how much Angel Foundation's helps families in need.
"Working at Angel's Attic has always been a rewarding experience," Posl said. "We work hard together and have fun. It feels like being a part of one, big happy family."
Like Peterson, many volunteers have found new strength and surprises while volunteering.
Last Spring, Mary, 42, of Long Lake, who was volunteering with sale setup, went to the doctor for treatment of what she thought was a minor ailment, only to receive the shock of her life when she was diagnosed instead with rectal cancer. While the diagnosis turned her life upside down, she was ready to meet the diagnosis head on with an aggressive regimen of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Mary was no stranger to cancer—as her mother is a 20-year survivor of breast cancer.
Throughout her chemotherapy regimen, she continued to volunteer alongside her mother for the sale. On many days, she’d volunteer before or after her treatment that day.
Following a year of aggressive cancer treatment, she has again joined the ranks of Angel’s Attic volunteers for this year’s sale—despite the sad news that her cancer is now terminal.
About the Sale
The sale is 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, through Wednesday, Oct. 17, and consists of donated estate sale merchandise filling about 90,000 square feet of space. Store fronts that once were home to businesses in the Four Seasons Mall will now house numerous new and slightly used items including: antiques, furniture, art, household goods, sporting goods, lawn and garden, building materials, clothing for adults and children, toys, and much more.
Melemed said the hot items that will go quickly are in the children's department and the new women's clothing for sale. She also said the antiques and furniture departments are looking really good this year.
Because sale space and merchandise is also donated, nearly 92 percent of the proceeds go directly to Angel Foundation’s financial assistance and education and support programs for adults with cancer and their families. The sale is also a win-win for those in need—offering an affordable place to shop as well as a means to give back to others in the community.
Admission to get into the sale is $3 on Oct. 13 only. All merchandise is half price on Oct. 17.
Items are left with the estate sale prices on them, then volunteers go through and scale the prices down from there for the sale. New items are about 70 percent off their original prices, Melemed said.
Waterford crystal glassware was marked down from $2,100 as a set to $420 or $30 per glass marked down from $75, all in top condition.
Melemed said people should bring their own bags and boxes for carrying items though some boxes will be available first-come first-serve. There is a holding room where you can bring your filled box of merchandise, get a number and continue shopping. Cash, checks and credit cars are accepted at the sale.
There is a women's dressing room and there will be porta-potties availble for public use. The mall is entirely inside. The entry to the sale starts at the old Natural Food store end and the exit is near the former Marcello's restaurant side of the mall.
Anything left over after the sale ends is given to about a dozen different charities that are contacted afterward to come pick up what items they need.