Carlton man turns Fiascos into fortunes – for cancerOver a quarter century ago, Carlton businessman Harold Ankrum and a group of his friends decided to plan a little “guys’ get together” on the local golf course. As the years went by, the golf event got bigger and bigger, and “All of a sudden,” said Ankrum, “we were making more like $4,000 on it!” He gives it all to cancer-related causes.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Over a quarter century ago, Carlton businessman Harold Ankrum and a group of his friends decided to plan a little “guys’ get together” on the local golf course. Each player put $5 into the kitty, and at the end of the get together Ankrum found there was money left over.
“It wasn’t my money, so I started buying rounds after that to use it up,” said Ankrum.
The next year the same guys decided they were going to charge for the event and they found at the end of the day that there was some $250 in the kitty. Ankrum said they decided to give it to a friend in Cloquet who was awaiting a heart/lung transplant.
The following year, they made closer to $400 on the event, so they gave it to the family of a cancer victim they knew.
Finally, the little “get together” was regularly bringing in $400 or more every year, so rather than have to pick and choose who to give it to, Ankrum suggested it go to the American Cancer Society.
“Every year I would present a check to the Cancer Society at their annual Relay for Life event,” said Ankrum.
As the years went by, the golf event got bigger and bigger, and “All of a sudden,” said Ankrum, “we were making more like $4,000 on it!”
The popular event became known as “Harold’s Golf Fiasco,” and legions of area residents – golfers and non-golfers alike – began to look forward to it each year, with a great many stepping forward to help volunteer with organizing, staffing and running the event, as well as contributing raffle prizes, items for the auction that had been added along the way, and participating in it at Pine Hill Golf Course on the day of the event.
A number of years ago, on-air personality (and former Wrenshall resident) Cathy Cates from B-105 Radio approached Ankrum, saying she was looking for a local golf tournament to support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
“I figured that would be a good cause, as long as the money went to cancer research,” said Ankrum.
And so, Harold’s Golf Fiasco began to raise funds for St. Jude’s, and over the last three years alone, Ankrum said the Fiasco has raised $8,000, $10,000 and $12,000 respectively. This year’s event in August – the 26th annual – brought in some $14,000, to become the highest grossing Fiasco of all time. Ankrum admitted he “really should get around to” totaling up all of the money raised over the years by the event, adding his closest estimate would be around $60,000.
A year ago, with the encouragement and support of friends Kevin Koen and John Johnson of Family Tradition, Ankrum decided to add a “Flapjack Fiasco” in early August, held at Carlton’s Four Seasons Sports Complex. Johnson donated his famous pancake mix from Family Tradition as well as the eggs, and many volunteers stepped up to the plate to help cook and serve. It was an immediate hit, and this year’s second annual event brought in $1,800.
Not content to rest on their already-impressive laurels, Ankrum and his wide circle of cronies decided to add a September event to the Fiasco “trifecta,” and last weekend the first “Harold’s Hogroastin’ Fiasco” was held at the Carlton VFW, featuring hand-crafted pork sandwiches, southern-style coleslaw and baked beans.
“We roasted three pigs on the cooker and volunteers carved for five hours!” said Ankrum, estimating that some 300 people attended the event and approximately $1,000 was raised.
In addition to the $15,000 donation from the three Fiascos that will be sent to St. Jude’s, an additional $600 of the proceeds went to Carlton resident David Hobbs’ 4-year-old grandson, who is suffering from a childhood form of cancer.
Ankrum is characteristically modest about the role he’s played in the Fiasco phenomenon, saying he’s simply the logical person for others to rally around since he’s been in business in Carlton for the past 40 years.
“When you’ve been around that long,” he said, “you come up with a lot of friends.”