OWATONNA — Many tears were shed among the family and friends of the four From the Heart recipients on Wednesday night as the organizers presented each individual with the money raised at last month’s event.

“In our 11th year, everything went by so fast in so many ways,” said Beth Svenby, the founder of the From the Heart Run/Walk. “I know we provide financial support for each of you, but the true gift is how we get to know you and build friendships and relationships that a deep and forever.”

From the Heart is a charity race that raises money to assist Owatonna families battling cancer. Born from a dream she had after losing her own mother and learning about a local woman facing her own cancer journey, Svenby and a group of friends set out to give not just the financial support, but to provide emotional and physical support to the entire families affected by the disease. Throughout the 11-year lifespan of From the Heart, the community has been able to provide support to 35 local families and has raised nearly $400,000.

On Wednesday, the four 2019 recipients gathered with family, friends, and members of the From the Heart committee to reveal this year’s video and receive the monetary support that was raised at the main event on May 4. The recipients were Dawn Armstrong, Chris Utoft, Monica Kruschke, and Cheryl Bastyr.

During the heart-wrenching yet uplifting video that shared the stories of the four recipients, each recipient expressed a deep appreciation for everyone who makes From the Heart possible year after year. Utoft stated that he thanks each and every person who has been there for him and his family from the bottom of his heart, while Kruschke noted that the amount of people who come together to support one another is simply amazing. Armstrong admitted that she will never be able to thank the From the Heart committee and volunteers enough, while Bastyr directly thanks Svenby for dreaming the whole thing up so many years ago.

“You are climbing a mountain, and I have never climbed that mountain,” Svenby said as she address the four recipients after the video concluded. “I want to remind you people who are supporting your loved one how important and impactful you are to them. Please continue to fight that battle with them. You are their spirit.”

In a demonstration of the love, care, and support that the community has for the four recipients, the From the Heart committee was able to present recipient with a $10,000 check. Each recipient was overcome with emotion as the checks were handed out as the depth of which they are loved began to sink in.

“We would just like to say that through this all, we have realized that there isn’t much for a support group in the community,” Kruschke said on behalf of the other recipients. “So we are going to start our own — and that wouldn’t have happened had you not brought us all together.”

“As we get older, we learn that what you do for others is what matters,” Svenby said. “To have you turn around and give back to others, that’s what it’s all about.”

In previous years, From the Heart has provided support for the families of Lisa Hilstad, Steve Nelson, Tyler Harlicker, Nacia Olson, Gabriella Velasquez, Kyle DeKam, Samantha Nachanicky, Christine Deming-Davis, Susan Harty, Candy Anderson, Juan Villarreal, Bill Reuter, John Berning, Jean Borgman, Rodney Earlywine, Pete Kalan, Paul Grannes, Tracy Williams, Julie Bauer, Don Hettinga, Royetta Spurgeon, Marcy Fenske, Terri Grose, Nick Larson, Matt Ratzloff, Brian Wencl, Tanya Powell, Heidi Smith, Joe Wagoner, and Jim Gleason.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 444-2378 or Follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie.

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