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Killebrew-Thompson Memorial virtual auction nets $450,000 for cancer research

A one-hour online event was witnessed by watch parties around the country.

BOISE, Idaho — In these difficult times for nonprofits who rely on live auction galas to fund their missions, the need to be creative right now is key for them.

That has brought about the era of virtual auction galas like the one I was fortunate to be a part of this weekend in Sun Valley.

The Killebrew-Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament Auction and Gala raises close to a million dollars every year for cancer research split between the cancer center in Minnesota and St. Luke's Tumor Institute in Boise.

But, this year, with the golf tournament and auction going virtual the concern was whether to go forward with an online fundraiser.

Well, the decision to do it was a good one.

A one-hour event, witnessed by watch parties around the country.

Highlighted by appearances by ESPN's Chris Berman, the music of the Braun Brothers and more, it was viewed across the country and ended up raising $450,000 through online paddle raises, silent and live auction items.

Nearly a half million dollars raised continuing in the four-decade tradition of providing needed funds for research and cancer treatment right here.

"We're able to take every dollar invested through the KTM and magnify that four-fold to apply for grants and really extend the ability that we have to care for individuals," said said St. Luke's CEO Chris Roth.

"We've had great success dealing with cancer over the decades," said Dr. Dan Zuckerman, Medical Director, St. Luke's Cancer Institute. "For us to make that progress takes research, to be able come up with therapies that can cure some of the rarer and harder to treat cancers we need both money from the federal government, but philanthropy like what we get from the KTM is an essential part of that, we apply for those grants and they look at us and see what level of engagement, what level of support does an institution like St. Luke's get from its own community."

The Killebrew-Thompson Memorial is named for late Idaho Hall of Famer and the co-founder Harmon Killebrew and his Minnesota Twins teammate Danny Thompson.