It started with a Relay for Life, expanded to other good deeds, and progressed to colleagues throwing chunks of wood about on the lawn in front of the Ozmun Center Building in Rochester, and plans for bigger battles and an area park. All in the name of fighting cancer.
Back in 2009, a group of co-workers from Mayo Clinic’s Help Desk in Rochester started a Relay for Life team and dubbed themselves the “Nerd Herd,” a moniker borrowed from the TV show “Chuck.” The team included Dee Dee Halvorson, Jason Halvorson, Shelley Franko, Sabrina Menz and Dan Patridge. The self-proclaimed nerds joined Relay for Life to give back to the community. (And in the past five years, they’ve raised nearly $25,000 for the American Cancer Society.) “The feeling of being involved in that is just so impressive,” Dee Dee says. “And rewarding,” Jason adds.
Let’s get back to those blocks of wood. If you’re like us, you may have never heard of Kubb, but for Dee Dee and Jason Halvorson, it’s a household word. After trying a number of other things, in 2013, the Halvorsons and the Nerd Herd started using their love of Kubb as a way to raise more money for the relay. The Scandinavian lawn game pits two teams against each other, with wooden blocks for shields and a large “king” block in the middle. The objective is to knock down your opponent’s blocks (not your opponents themselves) by throwing wooden batons at the opposition’s side of the field of play. The Nerd Herd hosted their first Kubb tournament last year in Kasson, Minnesota, with an impressive 12 teams participating. They’ve nearly tripled that number for this year’s tournament on Saturday, June 14, (which, by the way, welcomes spectators) at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Kasson. Many players and volunteers are cancer survivors or have had family members or friends battle the disease.
When they’re not raising money to fight cancer, on many sunny summer days during the lunch hour you can find members of the Nerd Herd on the lawn in front of the Ozmun Center Building, where they host more casual Kubb competitions. It’s a great community event, although Dee Dee warns it’s harder than it looks. We recently went out to see what the lunchtime Kubb was all about. Shortly after noon, folks began to wander out to the pitch and the games began. There are some regulars, according to Dee Dee, and sometimes curious passersby will join the fun. As one player said, “What’s nice about this is it’s so collegial. Everybody is cheering each other on.” Dee Dee welcomes anyone to join the fun. “If the weather looks good,” she says, “we’ll be out there.”
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