Ryan Wynia (right) at First Farmers and Merchants Bank and Ryan DeBates at Exchange State Bank are accepting donations for the American Cancer Society for Rock County's June 12 Relay for Life event.

Two bank Ryans face off in 'Kiss the Pig' contest for Rock County Relay for Life

Rock County Relay for Life’s “Kiss the Pig” fundraising effort is shaping up to be a battle of the Ryans at competing local banks.

Ryan Wynia at First Farmers and Merchants Bank and Ryan DeBates at Exchange State Bank are accepting donations for the American Cancer Society for Rock County’s June 12 Relay for Life event.

The Ryan who brings in the most money will have the honor of watching his opponent kiss a live pig in Luverne City Park during the Relay program. (So they are taking donations for each other, hoping not to be the winner).

Marilyn Van Grootheest remembers the Kiss the Pig contest in 2006 when Cliff Boom at First Farmers and the late Jim Boeve at Minnwest Bank competed for funds.

Boeve had cancer at the time, and Van Grootheest recalls taking on the job of being captain of First Farmers’ Relay team in 2008.

“I had started out just knowing a few people with cancer and not understanding what they had gone through,” she.

Then, in September 2012, cancer hit close to home when her husband, Mike, was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer.

“This was a life-changing event,” Van Grootheest said.

“I could totally relate to what a person as a caregiver would go through.”

She said it was also transforming to watch her husband change from a strong man to one who became vulnerable.

Along the way, she said Mike became an unwitting reminder to others about the importance of colonoscopies and early detection.

“I have some who still tell me that because of Mike being diagnosed and going through what he had, that he has saved some lives,” she said.

“And now we are here three years later with a son who graduated from college, married and now going to make us grandparents. There are still more stepping stones for us, and I wouldn't want to do it without him.”

She said Relay for Life played an important role for healing.

“My family lived through a tough time and found out that our family, friends and community were such a great support system,” Van Grootheest said.

“This is why this has become something of importance to me and my family.”

She said both Wynia and DeBates didn’t hesitate to participate in the Kiss the Pig contest for the 2015 Relay event.

“They too both have been touched by cancer,” she said.

To support the cause — and one or both of the Ryans — piggy banks have been placed in the lobbies of the two banks.

Money will be collected through June 11. Checks may be written to Rock County Relay for Life.

Comment Here