Three days a week, Barb Togstad has flour on her hands.
She rolls dough, mixes sugar with butter and creates homemade confections at Babb’s Coffee House in Jamestown. Those scones, muffins and macarons have a sweet purpose.
“I donate everything I earn to people with cancer. I hope to raise $50,000,” Togstad said. At this rate, she expects to meet her goal by 2023.
Barb and Curt Togstad created the Barb and Curt Togstad Continue Aiding Recipients Affected by Cancer Evermore (C.A.R.E.) Endowment Fund at Jamestown Regional Medical Center in 2016. The couple created the fund in memory of Barb’s parents (Donald A. and Mildred E. Olson). Donald and Mildred died in July and September of 1980, respectfully – both from cancer. Back then, Barb was 27 years old and a newly married special education teacher. At the times of their deaths, Donald was 56 and Mildred, 54.
“When I heard how easy and important it was to start an endowment, I thought ‘I really want to do that,’” Barb said.
Endowments to the JRMC Foundation keep the principal amount intact while using the investment income for charitable efforts. That means the C.A.R.E. fund and endowments like it last forever. JRMC uses the resulting investment income each year for purposes designated by the donor.
Curt supported his wife all the way.
“We were savers and reviewed our budget before we did it. Even though Curt knew my parents only for three years, he knew it would mean a lot to me,” Barb said.
The C.A.R.E. Fund supports the emotional and financial aspects of healing, said JRMC Foundation Director Lisa Jackson.
“The Togstads have the purest of hearts,” Jackson said. “Their only motivation is to serve others. In its year of existence, the JRMC Cancer Center has saved more than 244,000 miles of travel. However, travel is still required for some treatments. That’s why we’re so grateful to Curt and Barb.”
In memory of the 40 years since her parents’ death, Barb and Curt are asking for the community’s support. Barb created a fundraiser on Facebook and in two days, raised more than $1,300. The first gift, $191, was from Barb herself. The unusual amount is a token to the combined age of Donald and Mildred if they were still alive today.
“I just hope my parents are proud of me,” Barb said.
All gifts to the C.A.R.E. Fund purchase gas and restaurant cards for cancer patients. The goal is to support those individuals emotionally and financially through their cancer journey.
“We traveled to Mayo when my parents were sick, so I know how valuable those gas cards are,” Barb said. “And I remember the smell of food upset my mother’s stomach, so we often ordered food to go. I understand what people are going through and I want to make it easier for them.”
Her job at Babb’s is a retirement one. Barb retired from a career serving those with developmental disabilities in 2019.
Barb earned her living caring for people with special needs. Even while she was working, she used her free time to care for people with cancer the way she did for her parents four decades ago.
Active in Stutsman County Relay for Life, Barb and her friend Connie Gange beaded cancer jewelry in 2006 and 2007. Proceeds of that jewelry netted $15,000 for the American Cancer Society. The fundraiser was so successful, the women even wrote a book about it called “It’s Time for a Cure.”
Today, Togstad is a member of the Jamestown Cancer Support Group. The Jamestown Cancer Support Group is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization which assists cancer patients and families with transportation costs. The group’s signature event is the Quarter Craze in September.
“Curt and Barb are an inspiration. Barb could have, and deserved to, spend her retirement relaxing. Yet, she’s working three days a week and using every dollar to support others in need. She’s THE difference in the lives of those we serve at JRMC. The Togstad C.A.R.E. Fund is what makes JRMC a destination for care in the region,” Jackson said.
Cancer is the leading cause of death for Stutsman County residents ages 45-84. And in a 60-mile radius of Jamestown, 252 people are diagnosed or die from cancer each year.
“Cancer is my passion,” Barb said, saying she was born to serve others.
“I had pneumonia with a high temperature as a baby,” Barb said. “My parents would say they were blessed I didn’t die. Since that comment from a young age, I have felt my purpose in life is to help others. I hope my parents are looking down and smiling at me.”
Individuals can donate to the Togstad fundraiser through Facebook or online at www.jrmcnd.com/giving. The Togstads also sponsored a hole for Friday’s Golf “FORE” Good event and will have a table. This year’s 50/50 raffle will benefit the fund. Gifts can also be mailed to:
c/o C.A.R.E. Fund
2422 20th St. SW
Jamestown, ND 58401
Since its origin four years ago, the C.A.R.E. Fund has supported more than 75 people with gas and restaurant cards. In addition to helping patients, the Togstads’ work has inspired additional giving. This year, Cenex S & R Truck Plaza & Café matched the C.A.R.E. fund’s earnings up to $1,000.
Learn more about the C.A.R.E. Fund or establishing an endowment at www.jrmcnd.com/giving.