Angels in Every Sense of the Word

Dan and Sue Beihoff, owners of Eagle River Roasters and longtime residents of Eagle River, have supported Angel On My Shoulder in every way possible, from sponsoring a food hole on the golf course, to creating and offering Angel coffees and teas at their store and on their website with proceeds going to the charity.

Proud parents of four children (Dan, NickElena and Max), the Beihoffs have become part of the Angel family. 

“My kids have volunteered at some of the camps and have come away with a new respect of what others are experiencing in life,” Dan said. 

Dan spoke of Lolly Rose with great affection. “She became a regular customer and a friendship developed,” he said. “One of the table and chair sets is known as ‘Lolly’s office.’ It has a large collage of Angel On My Shoulder Polar Plunge pictures above it, as we have had our own team for many years now.”

Dan said Lolly told them the story of Angel’s founding and it touched their hearts. “We do private label coffees and teas for Lolly with profits going to support Angel On My Shoulder,” he said. 

“Lolly and Angel On My Shoulder have welcomed us into her family as she has become more than a dear friend,” Dan added. “She is part of our personal family, too.”

Golf Honorees in 2017 for the Angel Golf Spectacular, Dan and Sue also presented and sponsored Angel’s newest offering last year: The Eagle River Roasters Oasis on the Patio that included their own Roasters breakfast specialties. 

Dan has an entrepreneurial background that has been vital to their own business and helped with their efforts to contribute to Angel On My Shoulder. A developer of business and cultivator of opportunities, Dan hails from the well-known Beihoff Music Company of Milwaukee. Sue is a creative and gifted graphic artist in her own rightThe couple owned and operated the Cranberry Gift House for a number of years, later transforming it into the Eagle River Roasters. Last year they fulfilled a long-time dream of Dan’s by creating and introducing the newest addition to their coffee house, a uniquely elegant “Cupping Room.”            

The Roasters is wellrepresented by its Team of Plungers at the annual Original Northwoods Polar Plungea tremendously successful fundraiser with Angel as the recipient. The Baristas bravely plunge into the icy waters of Spirit Lake after collecting an incredible amount of donations in the form of pledges.

When asked what he would say to someone looking to get involved with Angel On My Shoulder, Dan said, “If anyone is looking for an organization to become involved in that directs such a high percentage of donations directly to the programs—this is it!”

“It is truly rewarding to know that we are able to help some of our most vulnerable in a society today,” Dan said. “Our children, even for just a little while.

AOMS Donations

Sue Slowinski (Slo’s Pub in Arbor Vitae) presented a big check to our executive director Lolly Rose during the Golf Spectacular 2017.  The generous proceeds check is to benefit AOMS programs and was raised at Slo’s Pub’s fundraising events held during 2017.

Taking the Plunge to Make a Difference

If you’ve spent time listening to WRJO you’ve heard Mike Wolf, Heartland Corporate Director of Programming and on-air host. What started 18 years ago as an idea at a fish fry grew into an annual Plunge that has raised a half million dollars since that first icy dive.

“Former owners of the original plunge location, George and Lois Ruediger, my wife Wendi and myself were sitting down to a fish fry,” Mike explained. “We started talking about radio station events and activities, when George and Lois asked if I had any ideas for an event we could have at the resort to help people enjoy and celebrate Wisconsin Northwoods winters. I suggested a Polar Bear Plunge. We wondered if anyone would show up. They did! We had over 30 people show up the first year and raised over $8000.00. What can’t a fish fry do?”

Realizing in the beginning that the Plunge needed a benefactor, Lois Ruediger suggested Angel On My Shoulder, a charity in St. Germain that was helping the cancer-effected community.

Mike said, “We went with it, not knowing what a difference it would make in all of our lives. We approached Lolly Rose about partnering up and that’s when we started to learn what an amazing organization Angel is, and what an incredibly strong person Lolly is. Being part of the Angel Family is an awesome feeling, knowing how many hundreds of people every year benefit just from one lady’s vision.”


WRJO also conducts a Pledge-a-Thon to work in conjunction with the Plunge and help bring awareness and donations to the effort.

“The Pledge-a-Thon gives us a chance to paint a broader picture of what Angel does for the cancer affected community,” Mike added. “We are able to conduct interviews, and share our personal stories about Camp Angel. It also gives those who would otherwise not be able to make the Plunge a chance to donate to Angel.”

When asked about that cold water, Mike said, “The water is definitely cold, but what I would tell anyone about taking the Plunge is that it takes less then 30 seconds of cold to send a kid to camp for an entire weekend.”

There was some speculation at the last Plunge that it might be the final one, having reached the half million dollar donation mark, to which Mike responded, “Is cancer gone? Then we can’t give up on those kids. We’ve had members of our Plunge staff lose loved ones to cancer that brought them to Angel, and we’ve lost Plunge staff members to cancer in the last few years. Not only do we continue for the kids but we also continue in their honor.”

Mike said the benefit of the Plunge, Pledge-a-Thon, time and effort that goes into this event are more than worth it.

“I go to camp and see the kids just hanging out having fun, being kids,” he said. “Something that because of the effects of cancer on their families they are not able to do on a daily basis. Seeing them making new friends and learning they are not alone in their situation is priceless.”

“A half a million dollars!,” Mike said in closing. “Let that sink in for a few seconds. Every day women, men, kids, and even some crazy radio DJ’s have taken the plunge and raised an incredible amount of money. No corporate sponsorship, just everyday people with one goal in mind. Just get those kids to camp. Everyone involved in the Plunge, from the organization, to set-up or take down, as well as the plungers, are what Angel On My Shoulder is all about, and being proud members of the Angel Family.”

Random Acts of Kindness

Kathy and John Dirkse been longtime supporters of Angel On My Shoulder. The couple became involved after being invited to the Golf Spectacular.

“The message hit us like a brick,” said Kathy. “The randomness of cancer, and no one is guaranteed to be immune.”

Since that time, three of six people in their family have been diagnosed with cancer but are doing great, and Kathy considers them the luckiest family in the world. All big sports fans, they love to spend time together as a family.

The Dirkses currently live in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. Married in 1999, Kathy and John have a combined family with four children, ranging in age from 23 to 31.

Kathy is Vice President of Government and Community Relations at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a large part of both their clinical as well as research portfolio is cancer treatment and research.  She considers herself blessed to work with some of the greatest cancer physicians and researchers.

John, Executive Vice President of Aegis Corporation, a firm he started 25 years ago with his partner, was first asked to sponsor a foursome for the Angel Golf Spectacular approximately the second year it was held.  Being an avid golfer, he said yes.

“At the time, we felt very blessed in that neither John nor I had really been impacted by cancer,” said Kathy. “What really impressed John and I was the fact that Angel’s programs were directed at the people impacted by cancer, the person with the disease but also all those surrounding that person.  I remember the first time I attended, watched a video about the kids going to camp and how it was a time they could get away and not think about their sick mom, dad, sibling, etc…  That did it, I cried like a baby and both John and I were all in at that point.”

Kathy said what impresses her most is that the organization is 100% volunteer and that the funds raised go directly to the people impacted by cancer. She is also impressed by the dedication, kindness, and generosity of each person helping out with Angel’s mission.

“We have so many wonderful memories of the Angel Golf Specular,” Kathy said. “For years, we invited my parents to join us and they brought their best friends.  Those weekends not only helped raise funds for Angel, but have given us a lifetime of very wonderful family memories now that my parents have passed.”

I asked Kathy about Vincent the Bunny.

“Vincent represents every parent’s nightmare and hope at the same time because a child lives on in memory and has made such an impact,” she said.

“Vincent was the stuffed bunny of a beautiful young boy, Vincent, who died of cancer.  When he passed, his mom donated his stuffed bunny.  Since that time, Vincent the Bunny has been auctioned off at the Golf Spectacular.  Vincent is far too precious to actually be a traveling bunny, he stays with Lolly Rose for safe keeping until the next year when he is again auctioned off to raise funds for Angel.  The winner, and everyone else in the room during the auction, receives something far more valuable than a stuffed animal, we all receive the honor of holding the memory of Vincent forever in our hearts.”

When I asked Kathy about her family’s personal experience with cancer, she said, “Well, that’s cancer right … It sneaks up on you without warning. It cares nothing about who you are, your life plans; it is random and unexpected.  Like many families, cancer came as a shock and literally shook every one of us to the core of our being.”

“Our family is ridiculously blessed,” she added. “After getting a diagnosis of “cancer”, we are all here.  In many ways, I don’t believe we are “worthy” of telling our story because we are so much better off than millions of other people who have lost their lives or their loved ones to cancer, like Vincent.  In today’s world, there is so much that divides us yet in our cancer journey, I only see what makes us all the same.”

As for what makes Angel On My Shoulder special to Kathy and John, she said, “The name says it all. For anyone impacted by cancer, the organization is an angel on your shoulder.  AOMS is there to help in any way imaginable.  The organization will always hold a very special place in my heart.”

Winter Camp Angel 2018

Winter Camp Angel 2018 Room place at a beautiful Northwoods campsite in Boulder Junction. The Camp is a cost-free weekend camp for kids 7 – 12 who are affected by the cancer of a close family member (sibling, parent or grandparent), or who have experienced the loss of that family member due to cancer. We want to offer these kids a break from cancer and provide them with a well supervised atmosphere of love and understanding. At Winter Camp Angel these friends meet others facing similar situations and shared lots of fun, positive experiences and wintery activities. 

Our kid campers stayed in cozy Northwoods cabins: complete with individual fireplaces to keep everyone warm and toasty. The campers enjoyed plenty of snacks and hot chocolate while playing games and getting to know each other and their counselors.

Campers also enjoyed snowmobile rides and sledding just to name a few other activities. They also have an opportunity to experience the climbing wall along with arts and crafts. Many interesting, unique and educational presentations were offered including a very special annual visit from Wildwood Wildlife Park and their handlers who bring all sorts of cute little critters (even a skunk!) for the campers to admire.

A Hero Behind the Superhero Capes

A retired postmaster from Marshfield, Wisconsin, Linda Dick saw an article and turned it into an idea. A few years before retiring, she read about a project that creates and provides superhero-themed capes for children in hospitals and in devastated areas. Then, when retirement time came around, she decided that was what she should be doing.

Linda said, “I went up to St. Joseph’s Hospital—that’s what it was called then—and presented my idea to make capes for sick kids.”

Using a variety of designs, Linda says each cape has a superhero logo on the back and takes one to three hours to complete.

Linda knows from personal experience what cancer is like for a family. Her daughter Lindsay, who she describes as having been her best friend and confidant, passed away in December, 2016. Linda is married with two surviving sons who help her through the rough times. She also has nine grandchildren, two of whom were Lindsay’s and were aged two and four when their mother died.

“Lindsay was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma in her check in February, 2016,” said Linda.  “She loved hunting so I made her a pink camo cape with superman logo in pink on the back. She wore it to many of her appointments, chemos and radiations.”

When Linda’s sewing buddy asked her to help her make some capes, she responded  with, “I got this.”

Linda says fleece is easy to work with, doesn’t need to have the edges sewn, and she can just cut out and add Velcro to the neck tabs. She made 169 capes of all different colors and sizes for summer Camp Hozhoni, held the weekend of September 8-10, 2017. This cost-free weekend camp is for children who have experienced cancer, past or present, and their families. The theme of last year’s camp was Hozhoni Heroes, acknowledging the fact that these brave children are our cancer warriors and heroes.

Capes were presented to everyone in attendance, along with masks, and everyone was adorned in colorful hero garb for the opening ceremonies and activities throughout camp. The capes added to the excitement and fun of this wonderful camp. 21 SUPER Families and 44 DYNAMIC volunteers enjoyed the MARVELous weekend festivities and everyone had the opportunity to display the super hero inside all of us for a little while.

“It’s just nice to know you can brighten someone’s day for a while,” said Linda. “My daughter even helped me cut some out on her better days.”

Linda said, “It is a great feeling to know you can do something to help brighten the day of someone who is sick. It fills some of my time so I don’t have to think.”

In addition to making capes, Linda has many other sewing projects for the hospital. She sews patient bags, doll gowns and taggy blankets. She also sews smocks and fitted sheets. “Mostly whatever they ask,” Linda said. “I help my sewing buddy with sleep caps for adult cancer patients, backpacks and bags for under the arm for breast cancer patients. This is what I do in the winter, in the summer I garden and have flowerbeds.”

Linda encourages everyone to find a way to contribute to others’ lives.

“If anyone has spare time, there is always a need somewhere, sometime, something for you to do if you are willing,” she said. “I would say ‘Give back when you can.’ It helps you more than anyone.”