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Play It Forward a fundraising success

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COVID-19 has taken much from our communities. But it has also created a sense of togetherness and inspired generosity. This has been proven by the over $267,000 raised during the Play It Forward Charity Golf Event presented by Bell Bank.

Born out of Bell Bank’s Pay It Forward program , Play It Forward was supported by many of you, sponsored by several committed local businesses and will benefit several local charities. These charities are instrumental in supporting the individuals and families struggling with the financial and emotional impacts of the pandemic in our community.

“There’s a lot of questions and anxiety about what the future holds,” Bell Bank president and CEO Mike Solberg said. “There’s not just a lot of need today, but I think a year from now and two years from now, there’s still going to be a huge need. Hopefully this is just the start of a number of things we can do as a community to come together and support the people that need it.”

Through twelve years of Paying It Forward, Bell Bank employees have donated more than $15 million to positively impact the stories of more than 12,000 individuals in our local communities. Among the generous match dollars provided by Bell Bank, Forum Communications Company and Dakota Medical Foundation alongside event sponsors Eide Bailly and Happy Harry’s Bottle Shops, this charitable endeavor was able to amplify individual donations while also giving viewers some of the sports action they’ve been missing.

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Teaming up golf skills and star power, each celebrity player selected a charity on the frontlines of providing direct COVID-19 relief in our region. LPGA Tour golfer Amy Olson represented the New Life Center and actor Josh Duhamel played on behalf of the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch on one team. PGA Tour golfer Tom Hoge swung in support of the Village Family Service Center with partner, 3-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Cullen, teeing up for the North Country Food Bank.

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Tom Hoge, Matt Cullen, Amy Olson and Josh Duhamel pose for photos on Tuesday, May 12, before the start of the Bell Bank 2020 Play It Forward Golf Challenge at the Fargo Country Club. David Samson / The Forum

Commentator David Schultz, former professional golfer and the Maple River Golf Club head professional, worked to support the Great Plains Food Bank.

Produced by Forum Communications for broadcast on WDAY and statewide ABC affiliates and livestream on the company’s network of news sites , president and CEO Bill Marcil, Jr. was excited to promote the event and support the drive for donations.

“Forum Communications is invested in bringing the stories of our community to life, and during this pandemic, we realized people needed a good story for a change,” Marcil said. “We were excited to help put on the Play It Forward event because it gave us an opportunity to bring people the sports content they were missing, while also supporting so many great causes in our community.”

Dakota Medical Foundation’s Helping Hearts initiative also played a key role in driving donations for the local charities. Having already put together a response to assist organizations during these trying times, Dakota Medical Foundation used their Helping Hearts site to collect additional funds that would be matched for the five local charities above, similar to their popular and widely impactful Giving Hearts Day initiative.

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“Charities are facing something they’ve never faced before,” said Pat Traynor, executive director of Dakota Medical Foundation. “Despite an increased demand for their services – things like food, shelter, and addiction and mental health support – fundraising is tougher than it's ever been due to restrictions on in-person events. These charities need our help more than ever to assist those in need.”

The impact of these funds on our communities will be felt by the many residents facing economic hardship and mental and emotional stress. Thanks to golfing heroes Amy Olson, Josh Duhamel, Tom Hoge and Matt Cullen and the sponsorship support of Bell Bank, Dakota Medical Foundation, Forum Communications, Eide Bailly, and Happy Harry’s, the 2020 Play It Forward Golf Challenge presented by Bell Bank has successfully raised much needed funds and awareness of the ongoing needs during this challenging time.

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