Despite race day being canceled, three families selected as the 2020 From the Heart recipients were presented with significant checks to help financially support their ongoing cancer battles.

The annual From the Heart charity race, which provides financial and emotional support to families who are battling cancer, takes place annually in May but was canceled in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This was the first year in the history of the race that the event was canceled.

“We have experienced all types of weather and still had the race,” said Beth Svenby, founder of From the Heart, said in early spring. “But this is just a storm that we don’t have control over.”

Over the years, thousands of runners and walkers have gathered at Lake Kohlmier for the From the Heart race, raising a total of nearly $400,000 to support 35 families throughout the event’s lifespan. On Saturday, the From the Heart committee traveled to the homes of its three recipients: Mark Woodrich, Jon Osmundson and Nova Maas — and presented each family with a check for $7,000.

“We really didn’t know what to expect for From the Heart 2020, we didn’t anticipate to be able to support our families even close to the same capacity as what we have been able to in the past because we really get our funds from the race, the spaghetti supper and the auction,” Svenby said. “What we found out is that our community is generous at all times. When there are others in need, everyone steps forward. It doesn’t matter if there is a pandemic, donations just kept flowing in.”

When the race was first canceled, Svenby said that the committee was pulling together funds to be able to still provide the three families with financial support. Some of the funds presented to the families on Saturday came from the proceeds of the new annual SheTime event, which typically helps fund the committee’s Random Acts from the Heart — a fund that helps support people in the community year round who are experiencing hardships.

Those who registered for the 2020 race prior to the event’s cancelation were transferred to the 2021 race at no additional cost. The registration dollars previously collected also went toward the 2020 recipients.

As far as the rest of the funds, however, Svenby said that they came strictly from the kindness in people’s hearts.

“I believe in this community 100%, I always have, and I could not be more proud to be a member of it,” Svenby said. “One of the most important things we can do is understand that when people are in need it is our responsibility to support them because we never know when it could be us. This just made your heart happy.”

Prior to delivering the checks, the From the Heart committee hosted a video chat with the recipients so that they could all be together to announce the financial contributions.

Registration for From the Heart 2021 is already open and can be accessed at FromTheHeartRun.com.

The recipients

Mark Woodrich, the owner of The Music Space in downtown Owatonna and a father of two, was diagnosed in August with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer where the bone marrow does not produce enough red blood cells. Woodrich said that the cancer directly impacted his brain in the form of apathy, an emotion he was not familiar with experiencing. On Wednesday, Woodrich officially entered remission after undergoing high-dose chemotherapy treatments and a stem cell transplant.

Jon Osmundson was diagnosed with Grade 3 hemangiopericytoma, a cancerous brain tumor, in 2019. Osmundson underwent a five-hour surgery to remove the tumor as well as 30 radiation treatments, followed by multiple rounds of physical, occupational and recreational therapy.

Nova Maas, a second-grade student at Lincoln Elementary, was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia days prior to the start of the 201920 school year. Maas has been through multiple phases of treatment for what doctors at the Mayo Clinic have said is the most common type of leukemia in children, as well as the most treatable. Though Maas wasn’t able to attend school in person this year due to both her diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools to adapt to distance learning, Maas said that she always felt a part of Mrs. Wagamon’s classroom thanks to video calls and occasional visits from school staff and friends.

Reach Reporter Annie Granlund at 507-444-2378 or follow her on Twitter @OPPAnnie. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota.

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