When his wife, Genevieve, died of cancer in 1996 at just 48 years old, Richard Boser wanted to do something to honor her memory and help raise money for others affected by cancer.
As co-owner of Rich Prairie Livestock in Pierz, Boser had the idea to host a community “buffalo feed” with the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
Local business owners donated prizes for a raffle as well as food items for the meal. About 250 people attended the event the first year, and it raised about $9,000.
As time went by, it grew too large for Boser to manage on his own so he approached local Knights of Columbus Council #3982, which includes about 300 members from four parishes — St. Joseph in Pierz, St. Michael in Buckman, St. John Nepomuk in Lastrup and Holy Cross in Harding.
“When we started it, I didn’t know if it would work,” Boser said. “The people around here are pretty generous but I never realized it would get this big.”
As a result of partnering together, the Buffalo Feed now includes a substantial raffle with over 125 prizes and serves a picnic-style meal of buffalo burgers, potato salad, beans, chips, and bars to about 1,000 people each year.
The feed celebrated its 20th anniversary Jan. 28 at the Pierz Ballroom. After expenses, $21,530 was raised for the American Cancer Society and the remaining $15,000 is left to the discretion of the Knights to distribute locally for charitable needs. A portion of the funds is given to Holy Trinity School in Pierz to be used for building maintenance projects.
“I am thankful for this event for the community to come together,” said Father Ken Popp, pastor of St. Joseph in Pierz and St. Michael in Buckman. “As pastor, I feel really good that our Knights are a foundation for this. So much good does come from what they do.”
The Knights evaluate community requests such as providing funds to area nursing homes for holiday events, hosting recognition events for parish volunteers and individual grants to those in need.
“That’s what is so great about this event,” said Mark Fyten, Grand Knight of the council. “It gives us the ability to look at local needs. In a small town like this, that really can make a difference.”
Amanda and Doug Rakow attended the feed as co-chairs of the Morrison County Relay for Life, an event that raises funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society.
“One of the reasons we come to this event is to show people that the funds do help locally,” Amanda Rakow said.
Rakow said that in 2013, funds from the Buffalo Feed provided 357 free night stays at an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge for cancer patients and their caregivers, five cancer patients attended the “Look Good, Feel Better” program to help them cope with appearance-related side effects, three gift items like bras, prosthetics and head coverings were donated, and overall, the funds helped 35 cancer patients and caregivers from Morrison County.
“We are glad [the Buffalo Feed] has been such a big success and that it can help so many other people,” said Terry Block, one of Boser’s sisters. “Rich took his wife’s death so hard and to see him giving back, well, I’m just glad to see it continues getting bigger and bigger each year.”
“I’m glad it worked,” Boser said with a tear in his eye. “That’s all I can say.”