Last month, 107 volunteers for the 2018 Cattlemen's Ball boarded two charter buses and drove about 150 miles to check it out.
It was an unprecedented turnout -- more than double the past record high of 48.
"We've never seen anything like it," said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. "Every year, we invite the planning committee for the next ball to come to Omaha. We take them to lunch and give them a tour of the cancer center. The idea is to give them information and fill them with inspiration to make the ball successful."
The 2018 ball will be held June 1-2 on the Hergott Farm near Hebron, Neb. The farm is located southwest of Omaha and only a few miles from the Kansas border. Randy and Becky Hergott will be the host couple, while Rob and Natalie Marsh will be the co-hosts.
So, what did they think about the cancer center?
"People just raved about it," said Rob Marsh. "We've already had a bunch of people who were wondering if we could arrange another trip back to Omaha."
The theme for the 2018 ball is "Whip Cancer."
The planning committee has come up with a unique fundraising angle called "Calf-For-A-Cure." They are asking donors to contribute $1,000. The money will go toward the purchase of feeder cattle.
The goal is to raise enough money to purchase 300 feeder cattle by Oct. 1. Additional donations will be used to pay feed costs and other expenses. Six months later - on April 1 - they will sell all the finished cattle for their full value with all money raised going to the 2018 Cattlemen's Ball of Nebraska.
"Each year's ball is different," Dr. Cowan said. "I love the calf idea. What better way for cattlemen to raise money. It's perfect."
Rob Marsh said the group was blown away by their visit to the cancer center.
"We truly want to help," he said. "The tour really helped our group focus on why we're fighting cancer. To see the doctors and researchers working together and all the state-of-the-art equipment, it was inspiring.
"I will recommend to all my family and friends that they need to consider the Buffett Cancer Center. It's a cancer treatment experience. It's the whole deal -- they left nothing out."