He is in the Serenity Garden
By Trent Loos
Once again I was honored to be the emcee for the 2014 Cattlemen’s Ball of Nebraska. The event was held just north of Kimball at the Hoot Owl Ranch. Owners Jeff and Kathy May and ranch managers Kenny and Misty Stauffer were the host families, and what amazing hosts they were. Nearly 4,000 people made their way to Banner County in western end of the state and the serenity was unmatched.
It really jumped out at me the number of people who mentioned just how good the beef was at this event. Of course this event was not only attended by those of us who actually produce beef and get to eat good beef on a regular basis. It was somewhat of a shocker how many times I explained that quality beef is a factor of a number of things including genetics, feeding, aging and cooking. The three meals provided at this event were all prepared to perfection.
The reason the Cattleman’s Ball was initiated in 1998 was to generate money for cancer research in Nebraska. I believe the real reason to be a part of this endeavor is that 100 percent of the money collected stays in the state. Each year 90 percent of the proceeds are given to the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, which is part of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The additional 10 percent is given to a local cancer center in close proximity to where the ball is hosted.
I do not have final totals yet, but I can tell you that the goal was to gather $2.5 million for the weekend and I’m sure final numbers will be close to that. Prior to this year’s event, the Cattleman’s Ball had rounded up $9.8 million since its inception. The first time a million dollar event was accomplished was in Kearney in 2010. The ball last year in Paxton broke the $2 million mark.
So that does cause one to wonder how much money it takes to study cancer.
Dr. Kenneth Cowan, director of UNMC, tells us that their annual budget alone is $600 million. Nationwide it is reported that in the past 40 years the National Cancer Institute has invested $100 billion in cancer research. That does not take into account all of the independent nongovernmental organizations that spend an average of about $2.2 billion annually.
I found it quite interesting to learn that the National Cancer Institute is not really some recent endeavor. In fact, if was formed in 1937 to ramp up the research on cancer.
Today breast cancer continues to top the list in terms of the amount of money spent on research each year, to the tune of $6 billion annually.
It would not take long to get really bogged down in the total amount of money geared toward cancer research and think how our little $2 million is not even a ripple in the pond, but here is where the huge ripple occurs.
This year we had a ton of testimonials from cancer survivors and the spouses of those who lost their life to cancer. When you see and listen to three children who have won the battle against such horrendous things as leukemia, it does something to your frame of mind. You understand that every little bit helps a bunch.
Perhaps most importantly this puts us in the frame of mind that we can win these battles and that we are making a difference. Studies show that we continue to make improvements in the quality of life for cancer patients. Some naysayers have said that with the mountain money spent so far, we are not far enough down the path to a cure. But there are always naysayers!
Honestly, I don’t know if we are supposed to “Corral A Cure for Cancer” or not, but what I do know is that this event provides the opportunity for us to really stop and think about what is important in life and seek better ways to make a difference right here on earth. Without question, there were 4,000 people who spent the weekend in the middle of a pasture in Banner County who helped make a huge difference in the lives of countless people they many never know.
It brings this to mind: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.