About 1,300 people attended Saturday's benefit for former Steele County Fair secretary Jim Gleason, who is battling cancer. Team Gleason released a statement, saying, "It was very special for Jim to see so many people that he knew, and, even if he couldn't come up with the names of those with whom he talked, or had difficulty finding the right words to say, Jim hopes that it is communicated to all just how much their support meant to him."

Attendees bid on silent and live auction items to help defray medical costs incurred during his fight with brain cancer. "Though Jim's journey has not been easy thus far, it is his relationships and interactions with those whom he loves that gives him the strength to carry on and fight through the tough times. It is these people who make the difficulties bearable - the conversations carried out over coffee, the time spent at church, the meals shared at the VFW, the comradery accompanying a beer (or two) and this benefit have all raised Jim's spirits immensely and have created memories that he will never forget."

His family is grateful to all who helped organize the event. "Space does not permit us to thank all the many people who contributed to making Jim's benefit such a huge success, but we would like to recognize the efforts of Shelly Noble who conceived of this event and all those who worked alongside her to make it come to fruition. We'd like to thank the fair board and all those in the fair office for helping to organize everything. We'd like to thank Godfather's Pizza, Tom Thumb Donuts and the KC's for providing the food and drinks, and Retrofit for renting out their space for the event."

Team Gleason also thanks the people who donated items for the auction, those who bid on them and those who spent their Saturday with Jim. "We always knew that Minnesotans had big hearts, especially those from Owatonna, but we didn't know until March 3rd just big those hearts were."

Gleason stepped down from his role with the Steele County Fair due to health concerns at the end of December. Gleason is one of the families that will benefit from the annual From the Heart Run in Owatonna May 5.

Rich Will/Townsquare Media
Rich Will/Townsquare Media