Correction: a previous edition of this story said Amanda Carroll was a member of the non-profit group "B.R.O.A.D.S. for a Cause." The actual group name is "Bras for a Cause." Corrected Saturday May 4 at 1:45 p.m.

Pierre resident Tonya Kierstead was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2018. While she has “really good insurance,” she said, even that is not enough to pay for all the expenses associated with combating the disease.

To give her the help she needs, Kierstead’s friend and fellow Pierre resident Amanda Carroll has invited everyone who wishes to attend the “Cinco de Cancer” benefit events this Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4.

Carroll, a member of the women’s non-profit cancer awareness group “Hughes & Stanley County Bras for a Cause,” is the events’ organizer and promoter. She said she was motivated to put together the benefits after witnessing the physical hardships Kierstead and other cancer patients endured during their treatments. The high cost of cancer treatments were also a motivating factor.

“I knew that we had to help her, because the cost of the cancer treatments was just asinine,” Carroll said.

Sigrid Wald, Communications & Public Relations Coordinator for Avera Health, said the costs of cancer treatment at Avera’s Cancer Institute varied wildly between patients.

“There are so many different variables… the kind of cancer, the different medicines, ordering the medication, even your genetics,” she said, “I don’t know if there’s a good answer I can give [about the average cost of cancer treatment].”

“You just don’t know what the expenses will be,” Kierstead said, regarding her treatments.

Kierstead said she was lucky to have the quality of insurance that she does, but added, “It takes a lot of money; my deductible is $1600 a month… Someone without good insurance, I don’t know what they’d do.”

The benefit events begin Friday night, Carroll said, with a bake sale at 221 South Central Avenue in Pierre. The bake sale runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and admission is free. The bake sale resumes Saturday morning at the same location from 8 to 10 a.m.

The main “Cinco de Cancer” event starts Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Ramkota Hotel and runs until 10 p.m. Carroll encouraged anyone with an open schedule to attend.

“Bring your family, you know? Make it a family night,” she said.

Food will be provided courtesy of Guadalajara Restaurant and Taco John’s; Ramkota’s catering staff will be manning a cash bar. There will be a silent auction, costume contest, hot pepper-eating contest, and other activities. Star quilts, and T-shirts featuring the slogan “Tonya’s Troops,” will also be on sale. There is no cost of admission, but there will be a free will offering. Carroll asked all attendees to remember that the event is first and foremost a benefit, and to donate accordingly.

There is no cost of admission in part because of Ramkota Catering Manager Chad Botts.

“There’s no rental fee [for the event space],” Botts said. “I decided to waive that myself; it’s for a good cause.”

“I’m really grateful to be in such a great community,” Kierstead said. “I’ve had strangers come up to me and wish me well or donate money,”

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