Health Notes: Young outdoorswoman raises thousands to fight breast cancerThe first time she participated in Mush for a Cure, a sled dog race to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Jessica Berg-Collman mostly got involved because she liked the sport and it was in her hometown of Grand Marais.
By: Compiled by John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
The first time she participated in Mush for a Cure, a sled dog race to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Jessica Berg-Collman mostly got involved because she liked the sport and it was in her hometown of Grand Marais.
She was 11.
“It wasn’t until the next year, when I was about 12, that I actually realized what I was doing and how important it was,” said Berg-Collman, now a senior at Cook County High School. “Ever since then I’ve had close people to me get diagnosed with breast cancer, so that gives me that extra push to raise more money every year.”
It must be quite a push.
In the six years since that modest beginning, the 17-year-old has raised $34,000 to fight breast cancer. The 25-mile sled-dog race remains a big part of that, although now she borrows her team of dogs from other people.
But last year, she also initiated a fundraising ice fishing contest on six lakes near Cromwell, indelicately titled the “Save a Boob Fishing Contest.”
“I made that title up so it’d catch people’s eye,” Berg-Collman said by telephone during a break from classes on Wednesday.
This year’s contest was Saturday, but Berg-Collman began planning it in October. In addition to the ice fishing — somewhat hampered by the previous day’s 15 inches of snow — she organized a spaghetti dinner, best-pink-outfit contest and a dance. She got a Cromwell-Wright teacher to get his head shaved to raise money. A Cromwell-Wright teacher and a principal plunged through a hole cut through the ice with her crosscut saw. (In her spare time, Berg-Collman competes in lumberjack sports.)
It was in Cromwell because Berg-Collman has family there and went to school there for a few years, and because the needed permits cost less there than in Grand Marais, she said.
“I want to raise as much money as possible, so I lower expenses by as much as possible, too,” Berg-Collman said.
The event raised about $4,000, Berg-Collman said, and, after expenses, she put $3,300 in the bank to add to this year’s Mush for a Cure. This year’s race will take place March 8 on Gunflint Lake on the Gunflint Trail. Berg-Collman will be doing that, too.
She plans to continue the ice-fishing contest next year, even though she’ll be in college. She has been accepted by Minnesota State University Moorhead and the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
She hasn’t decided yet on a major.
“After doing all this fishing-contest planning and fundraising, I kind of realized I actually do like doing this,” Berg-Collman said. “And I’m kind of good at it, so I was thinking about going into something in that area.”
Dental care on wheels
Friday marks the one-year anniversary for a program that provides free and low-cost dental care for Duluth families in need.
The Mobile Dental clinic, a 30-foot converted mobile home, has been serving Duluth through a partnership between Medical Teams International and the Salvation Army, a Medical Teams news release said.
The clinic is in Duluth three days a month, said John Braddock, the program’s development officer, and spends the rest of its time in the Twin Cities. Braddock hopes to eventually have a mobile clinic in Duluth half of the time, he said.
Volunteer dental professionals provide cleanings, exams, X-rays, fillings and extractions. They served 140 people in Duluth last year, Braddock said.
Financial support is provided by the Northeastern District Dental Society, Ordean Foundation, Junior League of Duluth, Kiwanis Club of Friendly Duluth and the Duluth Fire Department.
The clinic was in Duluth on Wednesday and is staying through Friday. Appointments can be made by calling the Salvation Army at (218) 722-7934.
Answers about Medicare
Here are a few opportunities to learn about Medicare:
Appointments are needed for the former and registration for the latter. Call the Senior LinkAge Line at (800) 333-2433. They are sponsored locally by the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission’s Area Agency on Aging.
MNsure streamlines payments
Minnesota’s version of the online health insurance marketplace has simplified its payment process, MNsure announced this week.
Although more than 100,000 Minnesotans have enrolled, many found the payment process confusing, Scott Leitz, interim CEO, said in a news release.
MNsure will no longer send consumers an invoice for the first month’s premium. That led some consumers to believe they would continue to receive the invoice each month, the news release said.
The new method gives consumers a choice: Pay the first premium online at mnsure.org or choose to be invoiced by the insurance company under the “select a payment method” step.
The changes were made with significant deadlines approaching. Individuals seeking a health insurance plan must select the plan and pay a premium by March 15 for coverage to begin April 1, by March 31 for coverage to begin May 1, and also by March 31 to avoid the penalty for not having health insurance, the news release said.
MNsure also added 50 more customer service representatives to its call center on Wednesday, the agency said. That brings the total added this month to 100.