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A Light in the Dark

“People with cancer are already fighting the big fight. They shouldn’t have to fight the smaller ones.”

That’s the mantra of the Feisty Fighters, a local nonprofit dedicated to “bringing hope and help to those fighting cancer.”

Mary Lloyd-Huber, a current board member and volunteer, joined the Feisty Fighters shortly after the organization’s start in 2005.

“My aunt, Bets Thorkelson, had been diagnosed with breast cancer and our family wanted to support her. We started by walking together in the annual Susan G. Koman three-day walk. In Sioux Falls, we did fundraisers to support cancer research — we sold flowers, we had garage sales, we did all those things organizations do in the beginning to make a little money here and there,” Lloyd-Huber said.

After supporting national and local cancer research, the Feisty Fighters eventually made the decision to switch its focus to help local cancer patients directly.

Today, an annual golf tournament serves as the organization’s primary fundraiser. Thanks to hundreds of golfers who participate each year, as well as donors who support the event, the Feisty Fighters have provided nearly 1,200 grants to local cancer patients in need.

“These are cash grants of up to $500. The amazing thing about $500 is that it can do so much,” Lloyd-Huber said. “It can help with gas, or a wig, or ice packs. For one family, it covered the cost of filling their propane tank for the winter.”

“But the reality is, it’s not really about the money,” she said. “It’s about showing kindness during such a difficult time. It’s a reminder that there are still good people out there.”

Meeting patients where they are

Social workers and nurse navigators at Sanford Health and Avera Health help identify cancer patients who could benefit from the Feisty Fighter’s grantmaking.

“Our grant applications are easy to complete and we review and approve them quickly — hopefully within

a week — so we can get patients the help they need,” Lloyd-Huber said. “We serve patients throughout South Dakota and within a 100-mile radius of Sioux Falls (for those who live outside the state).”

When applying for a Feisty Fighters grant, cancer patients can also request to be added to a prayer chain and/or can request to receive cards and emails to help them remain focused and positive.

Lynne Hunter is a counselor and social worker at the Avera Cancer Institute. She’s witnessed the impact of the Feisty Fighters first-hand.

“The Feisty Fighters program is really unique because it’s for any cancer diagnosis. I always know they’re there to help. I have a lot of gratitude because it really is vital for our patients to have these funds,” Hunter said. “People are in tears when they get these grant checks and to see the generosity of others.”

An enduring commitment to serving those in need

In 2020, the Feisty Fighters made the decision to establish an endowment at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation to ensure the organization, and its mission, will endure for generations to come.

“As a family, we had discussions about how we wanted this organization and its mission to live on, past the current team of volunteers,” Lloyd-Huber said.

“Hopefully we can hand it down, but in the event the next generation isn’t able to take it on, we want the mission of the Feisty Fighters to continue. That’s why we believe in the idea of the endowment,” she said.

Long-term sustainability is a key benefit of an organizational endowment, said Mary Kolsrud, the Community Foundation’s vice president for philanthropy.

“We often say that endowments are ‘forever funds’ because they live on, through careful investment strategies, to benefit future generations. As the steward of a charitable endowment, we take seriously our responsibility not only to preserve its principal, but to know and understand the organization’s mission and to ensure that mission endures,” she said.

A beautiful illustration of philanthropy

Since 2016, the Feisty Fighters have awarded more than $425,000 to those fighting cancer — a figure made possible thanks to the support and contributions of so many, including the Lloyd family.

“The idea for the Feisty Fighters was born from a loving family who wanted to do more to rally around one of their own during her cancer battle. That passion sparked a desire to help other cancer patients and today, thanks to the support of so many, this special organization is making a difference for individuals and families who are facing the fear and uncertainty of cancer,” Kolsrud said.

“The impact of this meaningful work is maximized thanks to Lloyd Companies, which provides administrative support to the Feisty Fighters — ensuring that the majority of proceeds and donations collected from the nonprofit’s annual golf tournament can go directly to cancer patients. It’s such a beautiful illustration of philanthropy in all of its forms and a wonderful expression of care, compassion and generosity by this family-owned, community-minded business,” Kolsrud said.

Learn more about the Feisty Fighters and its mission at

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