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Small Minnesota and Iowa towns find unique ways to support cancer research

Lyle Area Pool Tournament
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CARPENTER, Iowa (KTTC) - Cancer affects people in all walks of life and at any time.

To fight back, one small community has raised over $2 million for Lyle Area Cancer. Banding together towns on the Minnesota and Iowa border, events to raise funds for cancer research are well attended.

"Everybody comes together to fight this," said tournament director Adam Johnson. "We don't want to to see it any more. We want to get rid of it."

The Lyle Area Pool Tournament was started in by the family of Lucille Johnson as a way to raise money for cancer research in her honor.

"How do you raise more money? How do we do better next year than we did? He said 'You suppose we could have a pool tournament?' In six weeks, we had our first pool tournament. I think it was 32 teams. We might have had 10 tables," said Lucille's husband Tim Johnson, remembering the first tournament.

The tournament survived in its early years thanks to the help of local stores.

"A lot of businesses will donate $100 and sponsor a table. Some more than that," said Tim. "That's how we got started and we've continued that theme. You know, it's a little community but we all band together."

And they have. Heather Pannhoff has been to all but one of the tournaments.

"There's a lot of people that have been affected by cancer," said Pannhoff. "We're playing for all our friends and the people who aren't here anymore."

She stuck with the cause even when her old partner hung up her stick.

"She decided to quit playing pool and now I play with my sister," Pannhoff said. "We've been playing together for 10 years."

The Lyle Area Pool Tournament guarantees players at least four games which ensures that they stick around the whole weekend. It's a competition for all skill levels.

"I think most people that play in this are just trying to kick back and relax," said Pannhoff. "There are some competitive people but I feel like most people, if they do win, donate their money back to cancer research anyways."

Now in its 20th year, the tournament fills up each time. So do people enjoy more, the game or heloing the cause?

"Both. I think it's the pool, the people, the atmosphere,"' said Adam. "Everybody comes together. They have a great time and they know it's for a great cause. That's what everybody is here for."

"Raising money for cancer and seeing everybody," said Pannhoff and her sister Bridgette Beyer. "It's always fun."

The Lyle Area Pool Tournament is just part of the community's many events that raise money for cancer research with events all year long. Next weekend, Lyle hosts their 41st annual cancer auction.

Alex Tejada

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