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Perham area rallies for those in need in 2017

Brothers Aaron and Jon Flatau grabbed hearts when Jon donated one of his kidneys to his big brother.(photo submitted)1 / 7
Tanya and her husband, Rick, with their four children: Hunter, 20, Rhagen, 4, Cassidee, 2, and Mason, 12. Last March, Tanya was diagnosed with a very rare form of terminal lung cancer, a kind that tends to occur in younger non-smokers like herself.2 / 7
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Wayne and Pearl Romann have been ‘dancing through life’ together for the past 68 years. The couple met at an old dance hall outside of Perham when Pearl was just 17 years old, and Wayne was 23. Pearl says she realized "just about right away" that Wayne was the one for her, and they married a year later. Their shared love of dancing has continued through the years, and they still regularly go out dancing together.4 / 7
Perham-Dent School Board members were in good spirits as they 'dug in' at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Perham High School in May. Marie Johnson/FOCUS5 / 7
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Lucille Schik gets ready for a radiation treatment at Mayo on Sept. 26. Submitted photo7 / 7

There was a wide array of notable stories in and around Perham in 2017. What's most notable, though, about the Perham community when looking back over 2017 is its ability to come together.

Tanya Sazama, Richville business owner, mother, wife and friend to many in the area lost her battle with cancer in May of 2017. Finding the good in a heartbreaking situation helps the healing process, and the good in this is how the community took up every inch of the Cactus at a fundraiser for the family in January of 2017 to help in her in that fight. The event raised $65,000. Two Perham businesses kicked in an additional $11,000 to bring the grand total to over $75,000.

In an interview at the time with the Focus, Larry Kawlewski, Tanya's father said, "The community is so wonderful and good' it's just amazing." He described the benefit as "absolutely fantastic" and was amazed at the number of people who showed up.

The Perham community showed up in many ways over the last year, for many different people, whether it was on a grand scale like what took place for the Sazamas or in smaller ways.

There were benefits for the Schik family of New York Mills, whose daughter Lucille was diagnosed with brain cancer. Money raised was used to help pay for her medical bills, and thanks to local fundraising efforts through the Make-a-Wish Foundation once she was well enough, Lucille and her family were able to take a trip.

There were also individual acts of selflessness, such as when Aaron Flatau needed a kidney, his younger brother Jon gave him one of his without hesitation.

We saw quiet moments of courage, too. Erv Post showed us that it's okay to be just fine with letting go when it's time.

The community coming together doesn't always have to be in grand and dramatic fashion, it can also be in simple ways, such as supporting a new endeavor. Organizers of the Breakfast on the farm event were hoping for around 500 people to attend, and ended up with close to 1,000 people at August and Betty Ziegler's farm this summer.

There were many other notable headlines during 2017, from the completion of the new elementary school in Perham, the breaking of ground at the new high school, and the sale of Dean's Country Market. But it was the community's efforts of rallying around others that stood out.