Thursday, March 31, 2011

Annual SMU benefit raises $13,500 for Grathen family

Tony Grathen, this year's beneficiary, right front, poses with his parents, Melissa Edel, right back, and Matt Grathen, left, as well as Taylor Richmond, the benefit's namesake, and his mother, Nikki Richmond.

About 660 people danced to the music of the Johnny Holm Band during the Taylor Richmond Benefit Dance.

WINONA, Minn. — More than 660 people attended Saint Mary’s University’s 11th annual Taylor Richmond Benefit Dance on March 26.

Proceeds from the dance — and a silent auction held on campus — raised more than $13,500 for this year’s beneficiary, Tony Grathen of Rollingstone, Minn. Grathen, son of Melissa Edel and Matt Grathen, is a 7-year-old boy who was diagnosed with rhabdomysarcoma cancer in April 2010. Rhabdomysarcoma is a rare type of muscular cancer. Grathen is the step-grandson of Susan Edel, registrar at Saint Mary’s.

Since his diagnosis, Tony has undergone surgery to remove a tumor on his neck as well as 22 lymph nodes. He also has finished a six-week treatment of radiation and requires 44 weeks of chemotherapy. Money raised from the benefit dance and silent auction will help his family pay for medical bills and transportation expenses.

The benefit dance has become an annual tradition since it was started by students in 2001 in honor of Taylor Richmond, son of Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry and Student Life staff member Nikki Richmond and her husband Nick Richmond, both of Cochrane, Wis. Taylor has a genetic terminal illness called Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T) and the money from his benefit was used to fulfill Taylor’s dream of going to Disneyworld. Each year this event benefits someone in the SMU community in need.

Donations are still being accepted. To help, send checks — payable to the Taylor Richmond Benefit Dance — to Lance Thompson, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, 700 Terrace Heights No. 1528, Winona, MN 55987.