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CANCER BENEFIT: Local business supports community member in time of need

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Michael Odegaard at The Bakery Lounge in Austin

AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) -- Michael Odegaard has been playing pool at The Bakery Lounge in Austin for years.

"Unfortunately, Mike came down here one day and he was like, 'Man, I can't play summer league.' He was actually playing our summer pool and he had to bow out," remembers owner Curtis Sorensen. "I was like, 'Really? Is everything okay?'"

"I was having trouble walking. Having some hip pain," said Odegaard. "They did a CT scan at the ER. It came back that they found a lesion on my hip."

But that was not all.

"They found that there was a spot on my rib too then they figured it was multiple myeloma," Odegaard said. "They wanted to know if it was in the bone marrow or not."

It was in fact in the bone marrow and an aggressive form of myeloma, which is very rare in someone Mike's age. Even worse, he had been out of work since the pandemic.

"So we've been down to one income, my wife's income," he said. "Paying rent and car payments has been tough."

The Bakery Lounge decided to hold a benefit for him, complete with a pool tournament, food, raffles and a silent auction.

"A ton of sponsors. Donations I should say. Over $6,000. Tons and tons of stuff," Sorensen said. "The local communities and businesses really stepped up."

Mike recently finished a second cycle of chemo.

"The chemo is going well. My first checkup was a couple weeks ago," he said. "My numbers were down pretty good."

Later in the year, he will have to undergo a bone marrow transplant and be away from home for five to seven weeks.

"I'm anxious and nervous but I know I'm in good hands at Mayo. They're very successful treatments," Odegaard said.

Mike is a big sports fan who is excited to have the Vikings and Twins back, but finds his motivation from somewhere else.

"I have a 7 year old daughter," he said. "That's my number one. She's my everything so I live for her."

And Sorensen's motivation for helping out?

"We have to," The Bakery Lounge owner said. "I actually graduated with Mike as well. I've known him since I don't even know."

Just as they have before, the Austin community wrapped their arms around one of their own, even in a pandemic and at a pool tournament with COVID guidelines.

"Here we are with someone local that needs our help so we're just here to help him," said Sorensen.

The silent auction continued at Austin's Bakery Lounge until 7 on Saturday. If you would still like to help out, check out Mike's Go Fund Me page.

Alex Tejada

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