Billboard supports cancer awareness [UPDATED]Published 11:03am Monday, September 9, 2013 Updated 11:05am Monday, September 9, 2013
There’s a new billboard up in Fergus Falls, but this one in particular has about 1,000 signatures on it. The billboard, located on South Sheridan Street near the railroad tracks, was a fundraising effort for the Lake Region Healthcare Cancer Care and Research Center.
Community members signed the 12-feet-tall, 24-feet-wide billboard at events over the summer and gave freewill donations, all going toward the cancer center. The billboard, with its message of “Hope, Love, Cure,” will be displayed through the month of September for no rental charge.
Mike Mortenson, Fergus Falls native and owner of Mortenson Outdoor Sign, presented the idea to Lake Region Healthcare last spring. His aunt was treated at the cancer center, and while he’d donated money to the cancer center before, he wanted to do something bigger.
“Lake Region is a great supporter of my billboard company,” Mortenson said. “I just thought of a way to get people involved so we could raise some money.”
He also humbly made it clear that his goal wasn’t to gain a bunch of publicity for his business, but rather make people aware that the billboard is in place so people can see it.
Still, Katie Johnson, vice president of marketing and communications for Lake Region Healthcare, gave all the credit to Mortenson.
“He came to us with the concept and asked if we’d be interested in it,” Johnson said. “It went from there.”
They had the billboard at Lake Region Healthcare for employees to sign, at the West Otter Tail County Fair and both nights of the PRCA Rodeo in August. It tied in with the Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night at Red Horse Ranch Arena Aug. 10, where more than $9,000 was raised for the cancer center. They also brought it to the Viking Challenge, as an afterthought. They let people throw in a donation and then sign.
“We’d mostly like to express our appreciation to everyone who signed the billboard as their show of support,” Johnson said.
Mortenson and his wife, Trisha, were out at all the events where people could leave their signatures and donations. They heard a ton of stories from cancer survivors or about cancer survivors as people signed.
“It was pretty powerful for us,” Mortenson said.
Having the billboard up in September would also be good timing, with breast cancer awareness month in October, Johnson said. Cancer awareness and cancer prevention are good reminders to get out there, she said.
Fundraising money comes to the cancer center in all kinds of forms, but Mortenson’s idea was a new one.
“It’s certainly unique,” Mortenson said. “Certainly we’ve never had a billboard before.”
Mortenson hasn’t thought about where the billboard will go once it’s taken down, but Lake Region would be welcome to have it, he said. He’d also be up for doing something like this again, and so was Johnson.
“I would like to see it continue in the future,” Mortenson said. “I had a lot of fun with it. I want to support the cancer center as much as I can with this business that I have.”