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Rhino's Foundation gives to cancer stricken families, next event golf tourney at Clifton Hollow

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More than 20 years ago, a young man nicknamed Rhino had a physical to join the United States Armed Forces. He was notified that he had failed the physical because he had cancer, something he had not realized. He was in and out of remission, said his friend Brad Vier, and was struggling to pay for things.

A group of young men, including Vier, entered the River Falls Day's softball tournament with the hope of winning so they could give the prize money to Rhino to help with his expenses. He eventually died.

Vier is one of the founders of Rhino's Foundation, a nonprofit group that was created in his friend's memory. The mission of the group is to gather money to give to people who have cancer for the costs insurance does not pay for, like gas to and from hospitals, hotel rooms for people visiting hospitalized family members, among other costs. Instead of raising money by playing softball, they operate on donations and other fundraisers.

"If he went through it, then other families are going through the same thing," Vier said. "It was intended to help families."

Todd Hess' family was one of those. He was diagnosed with cancer last year when his friend appeared at his door with a check for $500.

"The money didn't mean the most to me," said Hess, even though he noted that it was helpful. "It's just the thought behind that there was an organization out there trying to help families out in Hudson."

Ever since he received the check, Hess said he has wanted to help the group grow so they could "help every family" facing cancer.

The most recent fundraiser was taking a group of almost 120 people to a Minnesota Twins baseball game where they raised $2,000. Their next fundraiser will be their 16 annual golf tournament in mid-July at Clifton Hollow Golf Club. Vier said in the next three years their goal is to host a fundraiser every three months.

All of the money collected at the fundraisers or in gifts to the organization goes back to families in western Wisconsin who are fighting cancer.

"Cancer doesn't discriminate -- it happens to lots of people," said Hess. "It's a really good thing to do and hopefully it connects this community together."

"We all know somebody who might have cancer. It's sad but is kind of a bond that we all have," said Vier. "We're trying to stay proactive, than reactive"

Hess said once he and another Rhino's member gave a bartender who had been recently diagnosed with cancer a $500 check on behalf of Rhino's.

"There were five or six people at the bar who started cheering and clapping. She started tearing up," he said. "She was very grateful, as was I, as were some other people from Hudson."

Vier said that feeling of gratitude is one of many that people who receive this money show, along with being shocked, surprised, happy and blessed.

"It's nice that we have the money to help people like that out," Vier said.

Hess has now been declared cancer free and he attributes that to the prayers and support from the community and Rhino's Foundation.