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Cancer can't hold her down; Stef Hurt starts non-profit for women battling 'the beast' (with video)

Stefanie Hurt, with Kevin Kerkvliet of Pink Boats for Hope. The two recently spent a day fishing together on the Pink Boats for Hope fishing boat. Pink Boats for Hope, based in Minnesota, works to raise funds and awareness to fight cancer. Hurt, a Perham resident and cancer survivor, and Pink Boats for Hope were featured in a recent video by Erik Osberg, for The Outdoor Report. To watch the video, visit Erik Osberg/ Forum News Service

There’s strong, and then there’s ‘Stef strong.’

In October of 2011, Stefanie Hurt was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 24 years old, pregnant and had just found out her dad, Steve Doll, was terminally ill with lung cancer.

The Perham resident survived chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and the passing of her father. She credits her faith, family and a passion for the outdoors with helping her beat “the beast.” Despite all the adversity, she continued to hunt and fish every chance she got.

“You get a lot of think time when you are fishing or hunting; it’s very therapeutic,” she said. “When I’m outside, with nature, I have the best company in the world – and that’s God.”

Fast forward to the fall of 2013. The cancer came back for round two, and Stef had to once again answer the bell.

“Sometimes it’s hard to understand why certain things happen,” she said. “That’s when you need to take a step back and understand there is a reason – you just don’t know what it is.”

Stef now believes she may have found the reason. She is now using her experience to help others battling cancer. This spring, she started a non-profit called W.I.N.K. (Women In Need of Kindness), an acronym that has special meaning to her.

Stef said she remembers feeling like the people around her didn’t know how to react to her diagnosis: “They don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do.”

She said the best thing people can do is just wink.

“I always feel really good when someone winks at me,” she said.

The purpose of Stef’s nonprofit is to raise money to provide financial support to women who are fighting cancer.

“Not everyone needs a trip to Disneyland,” she said. “Some people can’t even afford a wig. Let us make your car payment for a month. Let us get you some healthy food in your stomach. Let us take the family out on the water to catch some fish and forget your problems for a few hours.”

To accomplish this goal, Stef is asking people to donate to her non-profit.

“I need other people’s help,” she said. “Isn’t that what life is really all about? Isn’t that why we’re put here? To do good things?”

Cancer or no cancer, Stef continues to inspire those around her and leads by example. She shows no signs of slowing down and recently had a successful bear hunt in Canada.

She reminds others that, “In life, it doesn’t matter when you’re born or when you die. It’s that little dash that matters.”

Remember, she added, it’s not about having time, it’s about making time.

To donate to W.I.N.K., mail contributions to PO Box 47, Perham, MN 56573.

Click here to watch the accompanying video:

Erik Osberg is an outdoors contributor to the Wadena Pioneer Journal, a Forum Communications Company-owned publication.