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Tara Kapp's involvement with events help fight back against cancer

Mar. 31—JAMESTOWN — Tara Kapp's involvement with Baskets, Bags and Bubbly and R.M. Stoudt's Running of the Pink is a passion for her and a way to give back to the community.

"It's important to me that there are individuals in this community that have the access that they need for (cancer) screenings," Kapp said.

Kapp has a long history of cancer in her family. She said her mother comes from a family of six and four — including her mother — have been lost to cancer.

"To me, that hits really hard," Kapp said. "Since cancer is so prevalent and it's so common, you hear that all the time and there isn't a person you can't talk to around here that doesn't know someone or hasn't been somehow connected to or affected by cancer. It's just sad and depressing."

Kapp said it's worth it to be part of anything that can help in the fight against cancer.

"For me, knowing what my family has been through being there with my relatives who have had a diagnosis, I know what it's like on the back end," she said. "I've been there, I've done that and it sucks."

Kapp, a Jamestown native, was formerly an event coordinator for the Running of the Pink and serves as a co-chair of Baskets, Bags & Bubbly. She still volunteers with Running of the Pink.

Kapp said her involvement with Running of the Pink began when she started working for R.M. Stoudt in 2013.

"It was the first thing I was thrown into," she said.

Kapp helped organize 10 Running of the Pink events. While working for R.M. Stoudt, she said she realized how important the event was for the community.

As an event coordinator, Kapp said she did anything from the basics of marketing Running of the Pink to ordering the T-shirts, getting sponsors, rounding up volunteers and figuring out who was going to do what task.

"A lot of our staff members from Stoudt's were involved as well," she said. "It wasn't just me. It was a massive team effort."

When Kapp left R.M. Stoudt, she told the business that she still wanted to be involved with Running of the Pink.

"I want to see the people," Kapp said. "I want to witness the success and just be part of what Running of the Pink stands for."

Kapp's involvement with Baskets, Bags & Bubbly began with a friend's invitation to the event. She said the event is one of the best well-kept secrets in Jamestown.

"A lot of people don't even know it exists because we sell out so fast," Kapp said. "It's for 200 people. It's not highly advertised because Deb Lee started it and she created such a successful event that you don't even need to advertise."

The following year, Kapp was asked to emcee the event. Kapp was the emcee of Baskets, Bags & Bubbly for two years and then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

"We were able to have the event and it was all virtual because it was an auction," she said. " ... So I was a little more involved with the planning of the event at that point, not heavily, but still got to see kind of how it happened in the back end of things."

The following year, Kapp and Nicole Lemieux were asked to co-chair the event. She said Lee had asked the two to co-chair the event because she was retiring after running it for 15 years. But Lee would only retire from running the event under two conditions — Kapp and Lemieux run the event and the money raised go toward Running of the Pink.

"It was an honor really," Kapp said.

Lee said it was time for new blood and a new generation to take over the event. Lee started the event in 2005.

"They've increased the amount of money made and the enthusiasm they had, it's just been the right thing to do," she said.

Being the co-chair of Baskets, Bags & Bubbly included getting R.M. Stoudt on board with it as well. Kapp talked to R.M. Stoudt owner Casey Stoudt about her and Lemieux potentially becoming co-chairs of Baskets, Bags & Bubbly.

"He looked me in the eye and he said, 'Absolutely, you can do that,'" Kapp said.

Kapp said she was told that R.M. Stoudt would be the headquarters of Baskets, Bags & Bubbly, where people could bring their auction items.

Running of the Pink raises money for local cervical and breast cancer awareness and breast cancer awareness. Registration fees, sponsorships and donations go to the Jamestown Regional Medical Center's "No Excuses" program and Central Valley Health District's Women's Way program.

Running of the Pink includes a virtual and in-person 5K run/walk and 10K run, according to its website.

Baskets, Bags & Bubbly is for women only, and they gather to wine, dine and bid the night away to raise funds for local cancer causes, including JRMC No Excuses, Central Valley Health's Women's Way program and Jamestown Area Cancer Support, according to JRMC's website.

Kapp said the best way to fight back against cancer is early detection.

Cancer screening studies in history have reconfirmed that regular screenings cut breast cancer deaths by about 33% in all women ages 40 and over, according to the American College of Radiology.

Kapps said within the first two years of JRMC launching the No Excuses program, the amount of mammograms increased significantly because of the success of the program and Central Valley Health spreading the word about JRMC's 3D mammography.

She said the programs help eliminate barriers to get cancer screenings.

"So you could see the trend of this is working, the importance behind it is working, the support behind it is working," Kapp said.

Kapp said she was invited two years ago to attend the Quarter Craze event that raises money for local cancer causes as well. Proceeds from the event go to purchase gas gift cards that are distributed to cancer patients who must travel for out-of-town treatments.

"So you have Women's Way, you have No Excuses, you have help from Hope and Healing formed from the cancer support group to just help," Kapp said. "We are fighting back against cancer by trying to detect it early and for those who have to travel, we are helping them as well. So it's kind of hitting both ends."

Kapp said the first Running of the Pink had a small turnout.

"As with any event you start small and you keep growing but due to Casey's hard work and the hard work of everyone at the dealership to promote and believe in the event, it's just grown exponentially," she said.

Kapp said the idea for the event was for it to be a kickoff for individuals who are training for a marathon or a 5K or 10K run. The event is held before the Fargo Marathon and other marathons in the tri-state area.

"So this would be a really good way to try it, or if you are not competitive and just want to try it for fun or you really just want to go for a walk, it fits everybody," she said. "It's really family friendly as well."

Kapp said Stoudt and Doug Klaudt, a former manager at R.M. Stoudt, ran in college and researched what the needs in Jamestown were.

"They found that there was a hole in helping individuals get the cancer screenings they needed," she said. "At the time, they began working with Central Valley Health."

A few years later Jamestown Regional Medical Center was the first hospital in North Dakota to have 3D mammography technology. JRMC also created the "No Excuses" program, which works with Central Valley Health and its Women's Way program to make sure there are no barriers between individuals and the needed cancer screenings.

The event gets about 500 participants on average. The biggest event had 700 participants.

"He (Stoudt) knew there was a need," Kapp said. "He wanted to fill it and he's continually worked with others to make sure they reach as far as a goal they can to just give back to Jamestown."

Kapp said everyone at R.M. Stoudt plays a role in helping with Running of the Pink, including Stoudt.

"He's in the trenches. He's helping as much as he can," she said.

She said Barb Gefroh, who was an employee at R.M. Stoudt, was diagnosed with breast cancer and eventually passed away.

"What was interesting to me is a diagnosis of breast cancer wasn't uncommon. We've gone through that with my family," Kapp said. "But personally what I saw is there are individuals at the dealership who maybe hadn't been as close to somebody who had a cancer diagnosis and they were able to see Barb and her strength and what she went through.

"To me, it felt as if more of the employees in the dealership all of a sudden went, 'OK, we knew this was a thing, we knew it was a good event for the dealership and the community, but now we believe in it even more because we have a closer tie to it,'" she said. "So it just seemed like we just saw more dealership employees really be more passionate about the event because it hit so close to home."

Kapp and Lemieux coordinate the Baskets, Bags & Bubbly event, but they have friends and family who help as well.

Kapp said friends and family serve the tables, help with registration and set up the event.

"What they have found too is over the years of helping, they are like, 'OK, it's a lot of work, but we believe in this too because if we didn't we wouldn't help,'" she said. " ... It's us getting everything coordinated, but without our family, friends and the volunteers and the staff at Stoudts, we couldn't do it. There is no way two people could do that."