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Perham woman is Leading Ambassador for cancer-fighting team

Volunteers and staff of Minnesota’s American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network have been recognized as the national organization’s top advocacy team in the country. Robianne Schultz, pictured third from left in the front row, of Perham, is the State Lead Ambassador for the team. Submitted photo

A cancer-fighting team of Minnesotans has been recognized as the top advocacy volunteer team in the country by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

The team’s Lead Ambassador, Robianne Schultz, is a Perham native.

The Minnesota team was recognized for its “outstanding efforts to support both federal and regional legislative initiatives in the fight against cancer,” according to a press release.

The Cancer Action Network presents the award each year to volunteer teams that work in exceptional and cohesive ways toward meaningful change in cancer-related public policy.

“This volunteer team is an inspiration and a force to be reckoned with,” said Christopher W. Hansen, president of action network. “Thanks to their advocacy efforts, we are closer than ever to finishing the fight against cancer.”

The Minnesota volunteers helped to create the most consumer-friendly state exchange in the country, the release states. The group worked to increase access to health coverage to more Minnesotans through the state’s Medicaid program, safeguarded stable funding for the breast and cervical screening program, advocated for a 133 percent increase in local obesity and tobacco use prevention grants, and fought for $1.60 per pack cigarette tax increase.

Schultz, a 12-year breast cancer survivor, said, “I’m exhausted just looking at this list and remembering all the hard work our team of volunteers put in. We can’t finish the fight against cancer without volunteers advocating for cancer policy.”

Schultz’s team of volunteers include: Sharon Erpestad, Wilder; Pamela Fontem, Lake City; Ann Deshler, Edina; Kayla Hansen, St. Paul; Kaila Narum, Minneapolis; Dana Hoeningschmidt, Ramsey; Dorothy Roof, Fertile; and Patti Maguire, Duluth.

The award was presented in September at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C. The presentation was part of the action network’s annual leadership summit and lobby day, for which more than 600 volunteers and staff traveled to the nation’s capital to meet with Congress to urge them to make cancer a national priority.

“I had the opportunity to walk the halls of Congress with these incredible volunteers earlier this month,” said David Benson, executive vice president of the Midwest division of the American Cancer Society. “Their energy, passion and commitment to this cause, is truly inspiring.”

For more information about the action network, visit