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Benefit planned for paramedic

Sharon Heinen

Sharon Heinen of Wadena helped save lives as a paramedic, and now she is fighting for her own life and undergoing treatments for breast cancer.

A dinner and silent auction benefit will be held for Heinen at St. Ann's Parish Center 4-8 p.m. Sept. 8.

Heinen was diagnosed with double breast cancer April 5, and since then has had a double mastectomy and is going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Allen Smith, Heinen's supervisor at Tri-County Health Care (TCHC), said Heinen has been an EMS employee for about 16 years and has engaged in community education in first aid and other health topics. He said she has been off work since the day after the diagnosis, and the treatments at Mayo are expensive.

A sloppy Joe supper will be held at the parish center, as well as a silent auction.

"We've got a ton of things to auction off," Smith said.

Additionally, EMS employees will raise money at the benefit and start wearing a pink uniform shirt for the month, once they receive a certain amount of funds.

"It will also help raise community awareness both for breast cancer and for Sharon," Smith said.

Jenny Hoppe, EMT and community relations specialist at TCHC, said the benefit is not an official TCHC event, but is being organized by the hospital's employees.

Hoppe also said they are asking for other emergency workers, like police and firefighters, to wear uniform shirts to the event.

"We're hoping we'll have a whole sea of uniform shirts there," Hoppe said.

Smith and Hoppe said Heinen plans on attending the benefit.

"[Sharon is] very dedicated to her job. Her patients come first," Hoppe said.

Heinen is also an active member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Bluffton.

The Rev. Don Wagner, pastor of St. John the Baptist and St. Ann's, said he got to know Heinen as both a parishioner and an EMT, and Heinen taught classes at church in both religious education and first aid.

Heinen's family has a history of cancer. Her brother passed away from brain cancer recently, and Wagner said some parishioners went to the funeral in Cold Spring, Minn.

Wagner described Heinen as a volunteer who is generous with her time, adding that people are stepping up to show their appreciation toward Heinen.

Smith agrees that community support has been strong.

"Sharon's been around here for a long time, and a lot of people know her," he said.

Donations can be made to the Sharon Heinen Fund at Wadena State Bank. To donate an item for the silent auction, call 218-639-4845.