It’s A Great Day to Be Alive fundraiser raises $30,000 for St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea Cancer Center





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St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea (SJMC) recently received a $30,000 check from Gary and Karin Klapperich, organizers of the tenth annual “It’s A Great Day to Be Alive” fundraiser.  As in years past, funds raised from the event will support cancer services offered at the hospital.

“Every year, this fundraiser brings together friends and families to support the fight against cancer in our community,” said Nancy Graebner, president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea.  “In no small part due to Gary’s own inspirational cancer journey, what began as a small community effort has grown to have a significant impact.”

The annual event has raised $250,000 to date to benefit the Cancer Center at SJMC. The 16,500 square foot cancer center enables local residents to receive a wide range of cancer treatments, from surgery to chemotherapy and radiation, all under one roof close to home. As a member of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, SJMC’s Cancer Center also provides access to regional resources including clinical research trials, genetic counseling, and CyberKnife® radiotherapy.



Over eleven years ago, Gary Klapperich, diagnosed with colon cancer, had successful cancer surgery at SJMC followed by chemotherapy at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.  It was during the long hours of infusion that Gary kept his spirits up with the Travis Tritt tune “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” and the name of the fundraiser was born.

When Gary learned that SJMC was raising funds to build an infusion center and then a full cancer center close to home, Gary, along with his wife Karin, made the decision to hold a fundraiser each year to benefit the new cancer center.

Working with members of the Ann Arbor Fraternal Order of Eagles #2154, this event has become one of the largest three-day rummage sales in the area.  Along with the rummage sale, the event includes silent and live auctions, raffles, bake sales, t-shirt and bracelet sales, 50/50 raffles, hair cutting for charity, and a myriad of other activities throughout the year, culminating in the event, held this year from August 16 thru 18.

“We are humbled by the outpouring of support from our friends, neighbors, and members of the community, especially the Eagles and our largest donor organizations, Thomson Reuters and The Bullseyes Hunt Club in Manchester,” said Gary.  “We are very proud to support the St. Joe’s Chelsea Cancer Center, and to help ensure that future patients have local access to high quality cancer care.”

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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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