CAMANCHE — Ask anyone in Camanche what their two big events are and you will probably hear the same answer: Camanche Days and Camanche M.D.A.
The Camanche M.D.A. (Muscular Dystrophy Association) started 29 years ago. It was just an idea to help a friend in need.
"I have twin sons that were diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of nine, and two close friends of ours wanted to do something to help our family out," Camanche M.D.A Chairperson Cheryl Paasch said. "They suggested a basketball tournament. My husband and I said we didn't want the money, but let's go ahead with it and give it to M.D.A. It's how it's continued to be and it's grown from that."
So a basketball tournament it was. That first year they raised $7,513 for the M.D.A. It hasn't stopped growing since.
"I would have never guessed that we would still be doing this," Paasch said. "It's amazing. It's good to have something positive and fun come out of something that is not so much fun."
Sports tend to bring out a lot of good in people. Paasch says the best part of the tournament—which starts Friday night and runs through Sunday—is the overwhelmingly positive energy is brings to the community. That's why they chose basketball to begin with.
"At that time my husband and his friends all played on the same basketball team in a basketball league. They knew that it was something they already did together and had a common bond with," Paasch said. "They knew it was something they'd get a lot of support from other guys in the league with them and thought they could build off of that.
"It's very positive. It's uplifting to see all the support that the community has for the event."
Small town Iowa certainly has found it's niche with an event of this kind. There are 18 teams participating in the event this year. The last three years have brought in over $40,000 each year for the cause.
"The best part is seeing the guys return every year. There's some of them that have been with us from the start of it, and some over 20 years," Paasch said. "It's kind of like a coming home week, seeing all these guys come out and support it.
"It's a way to bring people together that have a common interest. We have fun while we are raising money."
And really, there couldn't be a better community to do this in than Camanche, Iowa.
"It is a special community," Paasch said about the town that houses less than 5,000 people. "When there's somebody that needs something they really pull together. We feel very fortunate to have the support that we do year and year again."
In 29 years, they have raised over $550,000 together for muscular dystrophy research, patient services and other medical needs. It's no doubt that the 2018 tournament and beyond will continue to do the same.
"I'm not doing anything that any other mother wouldn't do to try to help find a cure for her son," Paasch said. "It is paying off, because they are doing patient trials now. When my sons were diagnosed they didn't even know where muscular dystrophy originated from. It's taken a while but they've come a long way. There's progress."
The Camanche M.D.A Fundraiser begins Friday with the start of the basketball tournaments and a band at Imperial Lanes. Things continue Saturday with the annual Hog Roast at the bowling alley with auctions, raffles, "Kiss the Pig", and entertainment. The basketball tournament wraps up Sunday along with a Bag Board Tournament at Imperial Lanes.