Every year, a Nebraska community comes together to host more than 4,000 people -- sometimes more than the town's population - for the Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska.
It's an event that takes nearly two years of planning and more than 1,000 volunteers to put together, but the rewards are tremendous: 90 percent of the funds go toward the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine, while 10 percent go toward local grant recipients. All of the funds stay in Nebraska.
To date, the event has raised nearly $13 million to go toward the Fred & Pamela Buffet Cancer Center. This year's event, which took place at Trevor and Torri Lienemann's Lienetics Ranch near Princeton, Neb, Neb., raised $805,000 for the cancer center with $89,900 going toward local grant recipients, including local volunteer fire and rescue efforts, colleges and universities, and Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer.
"The Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska is one of those events that, as you've seen, totally transforms a community," said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. "There's no fundraiser in America where 1,000 volunteers come together in a small community and spend thousands of hours to put on a party for 4,300 people, and then next year, you turn around and say, 'Let's do it in another location.'"
Next year marks the 20th Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska. Dr. Cowan said that in these 20 years, the event has touched thousands of people.
"There will literally have been 20,000 people who have worked at the Cattlemen's Ball in the last 20 years, and 90,000 people who will have attended the Cattlemen's Ball in the last 20 years," he said.
Since the Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska was first held in 1998, the center has recruited more than 250 new faculty into Nebraska -- including 44 new faculty in the past three years. Meanwhile, the $12 million raised has been critical to the center to provide seed money in pilot grants for faculty already at the center to generate new data to incorporate into a much larger federal grant.
In spring of 2017, the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center will open its 10-story, 635,000-square-foot Suzanne and Walter Scott Cancer Research Tower.
"The building will be truly transformational to our researchers, because they'll be able to see our patients every single day," Dr. Cowan said. "It really is the only facility built like this in the country."
The 2017 Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska will be held June 2-3 on the Lonesome River Ranch in Custer County. To learn more, visit the website.
A history of success
The past 19 Cattlemen's Balls by year, site and amount raised:
- 1998: Ainsworth, $95,000;
- 1999: Lexington, $140,000;
- 2000: Ogallala, $104,000;
- 2001: Valentine, $133,000;
- 2002: Valparaiso, $207,000;
- 2003: Ashland, $33,000;
- 2004: Brady, $174,000;
- 2005: Wisner, $595,000;
- 2006: Milford, $563,250;
- 2007: Lodgepole, $480,000;
- 2008: Albion, $798,000;
- 2009: Doniphan, $488,694;
- 2010: Kearney, $1,003,300;
- 2011: West Point, $1,490,000;
- 2012: McCool Junction, $1,410,300;
- 2013: Paxton/Sutherland, $2,120,477;
- 2014: Harrisburg/Banner County, $1,300,000;
- 2015: Lynch, $985,000;
- 2016: Princeton, $805,000
Total: $12.92 million