WILLMAR, MN (March 2017) – In 1997, Joy Thompson’s friend, Carol, asked her for a favor. Carol belonged to the same bowling team as Joy and also worked at the local hospital in Dawson. She mentioned that Rice Hospice was holding their annual “Bowl for Hospice” fundraiser and wondered if Joy might be willing to get a team together and collect donations. Joy said sure, without really knowing what she was getting into.
Twenty one years later, she’s still at it.
In fact, for 20 of the past 21 years, Joy Thompson from the small town of Dawson, Minnesota (population 1,540) has been the top fundraiser for the annual Bowl for Rice Hospice event, raising over $100,000 since 1997. This year, Joy raised a new personal high — $7,284 – which accounted for one-third of the total dollars raised at the annual event.
“She’s amazing,” said Deb Van Buren, Volunteer Coordinator for Rice Hospice. “We are so grateful for all the people who participate each year, but that Joy… she is really something special.”
When asked what the secret is to her success, Joy says it’s very simple – all you have to do is ask.
“As I ran into people, I just asked them if they’d had the opportunity to donate to Bowl for Hospice,” Joy said. “Almost every single person was willing to give me something… even if it was just a dollar.”
Joy admits she wasn’t even sure what “Bowl for Hospice” was when she first started raising funds for it. But the more she talked to people, the more she learned. “They would tell me their mother used Rice Hospice, or their father… so they knew it was a good thing they were donating to.”
After a few years, Joy was approached about becoming a Rice Hospice volunteer herself. She attended the training at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and learned much more about all the services Rice Hospice offers for patients and their families. That made her future fundraising efforts even more meaningful.
“I get the satisfaction of knowing I’m helping other people,” Joy said.
Joy and her husband, Gerald, own Thompson Auto Glass in Dawson, which is the name that’s been inscribed on the Bowl for Rice Hospice traveling trophy for “Most Money Raised” since 2003 (and for an additional seven years prior to that).
“Stende Dairy of Maynard won in 2003,” Joy recalled. “But, I didn’t mind losing that year. All that means is that someone else raised more money for a good cause.”
Joy admits that she has to talk to a lot of people each year to get over $7,000 in donations. She takes time to visit every business in Dawson to ask for a donation. “Face to face is always best,” she said.
After 21 years, Joy is hanging up her fundraising hat and is grateful to Dawson business people and residents for their generosity over the years. “Maybe Dawson is just different,” she said, “But I don’t think so. All you need to do is ask.”
About Rice Hospice
Rice Hospice has been providing end-of-life care to residents of west central Minnesota for over 30 years. They have offices in Willmar, Appleton, Benson, Dawson, Granite Falls, Montevideo, and Ortonville. Staffed by 36 full and part-time employees and more than 250 trained volunteers, Rice Hospice provides care to over 500 patients each year. Services include comfort care, grief support, pet therapy, massage therapy, and special programs like “We Honor Veterans” and “Sentimental Journey.” For more information, visit www.RiceHospice.com.