Community First team shines at Sole Burner cancer fundraiser September 21, 2021 Several Community First employees had emotional finish line crossings upon completing the 2021 Sole Burner 5K last month, helping to raise money for the American Cancer Society in memory and on behalf of loved ones who were cancer victims or fighting to survive. The passionate involvement of Community First and its staff – along with support from hundreds of our member-owners – made the 2021 Sole Burner a memorable and successful event. Employee Mara and her family joined in for the 15th consecutive year since her husband survived a cancer scare with the removal of a kidney. Her Community First Credit Union colleague, Diane, participated in her first Sole Burner at Arrowhead Park in Neenah, surrounded by family in memory of her husband, Phil, who passed in February from cancer. Other employees, like Cal and Suzanne, were happy to support efforts to fight and prevent cancer. Cal, who was American Cancer Society's top individual fundraiser raising an amazing $3,335 for cancer research, also volunteered at Hydro Park in Kaukauna – all as a tribute to three family members currently battling cancer. Meanwhile, Suzanne, sold $591 worth of icons to member-owners prior to the event, more than any other teller, motivated by thoughts of “family and close friends currently fighting cancer or some who have died.” Another teller, Quanisa, volunteered at City Park in Appleton to help survivors and family members ring a bell at the finish line, while privately mourning her mother’s passing in June after battling ovarian cancer in 2020. “We’ve been a long-time sponsor of the American Cancer Society’s Sole Burner, but this was the first year we took our commitment to the next level,” said Cathy Mutschler, VP Community Relations. “Members, employees and family members stepped up in a big way, as donors, as walk/run participants and as volunteers. We couldn’t be more proud of the success of Team CFCU, for the contribution we all made together to give hope and help to those fighting cancer.” Top fundraising team Thanks to wonderful support from member-owners, employees, family and friends, Team CFCU raised the most of any other team this year ($16,519) through a combination of internal fundraising and team donations. While the 39th annual Sole Burner culminated Aug. 21 with socially-distant events in Appleton, Kimberly, Kaukauna and Neenah, most of the funds raised came from inside CFCU in a variety of ways – promoting the sale of hundreds of icons to members in branches, personal and team donations spurred by friendly competition, purchasing casual day stickers and leveraging a match to raise money as part of Team CFCU. Team CFCU’s top individual fundraiser Cal was “highly motivated to do whatever I can to help raise money for cancer research. I have three first cousins battling various stages of cancer and one of them lost his wife to cancer in the last 12 months.” “It was a rewarding experience and an extreme honor to fundraise for this worthy event,” said Cal, one of nearly three dozen employees and family members on Team CFCU. “I was proud to represent Community First and assist the participants in ringing the bell for a loved one. I truly enjoy doing whatever I can to help out others in need.” The Sole Burner has been a tradition for Mara’s family since 2007. “In 2006, my husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer but was fortunate enough to have it surgically removed with no chemo or radiation needed. We have walked in sunshine, sleet, rain and wind, supporting all of those who have lost, won, or are currently fighting cancer.” Walking alongside Diane at her first Sole Burner was her son and daughter. “The first mile the tears ran down my face,” she said. “For whatever reason, this was another milestone for me to reach. As we crossed the finish line arm-in-arm, the tears found me again. A little different this time as I felt him with us. The best thing ever was my beautiful granddaughter and son-in-law waiting for us at the finish line.” According to organizers, the 2021 Sole Burner has raised $178,000 and counting for the American Cancer Society. Community First was pleased to play a part and grateful for the support of our member owners, employees and their family and friends along the way. Together we are better!