Meet the 2017 61 for 61 Honorary Chair!

August 17, 2017

Steve Bulat was feeling good after a trip to the North Dakota Badlands in October 2014. He’d gotten his elk during this once-in-a-lifetime licensed hunting trip and was only a little tired once he returned to his Fargo home.

Steve didn’t think anything of his fatigue.

A few months later though, at his annual physical, Sanford family physician Randall Kenninger, MD, noticed Steve’s blood counts were too low and referred him to Sanford hematologist Gerald Gross, MD.

“Dr. Gross thought maybe I was anemic or I had a stomach ulcer, but of course they went on to do a blood marrow biopsy … and that changed everything,” Steve said.

Steve was diagnosed with an aggressive blood cancer and given an 8 percent chance of survival.

Steve and his wife, Ella, were stunned.

“I will never forget the feeling of shock and the words, ‘You need to get things in order and start chemo on Thursday.’ It was devastating news for my whole family,” Steve said.

From that moment on, the Sanford family wrapped their arms around the couple, and now looking back, Steve and Ella can’t say enough good things about everyone at the Roger Maris Cancer Center.

“The people at Roger Maris — I don’t know where Sanford finds them, but their hearts are so huge,” said Ella, who had battled breast cancer at Roger Maris 10 years prior.

Steve embraced support from a network of outstanding family and friends, the fantastic staff at Roger Maris and — most importantly — our most loyal donors to the Roger Maris Cancer Center, who all kept his heart and mind in the right place.

“We feel so grateful to be able to live so close, to be able to go back and forth from the hospital or clinic to our home, and have our girls and our family so close for their support,” Ella said. “It’s just amazing.”

Steve couldn’t agree more.

“My care was fantastic,” he said. “Every nurse we had was really sympathetic. They were so kind, compassionate and understanding, and I became friends with a lot of them.”

Today, Steve is in remission and now helps mentor other cancer patients at Roger Maris. He is being celebrated as this year’s 61 for 61 Honorary Chair!

“It’s an honor,” Steve said. “I want to share my story and give people who are going through cancer a lot of hope. I want to tell them, ‘You can survive this and you’re going to get great care at Roger Maris.’”

Please consider making a gift to Roger Maris for the annual 61 for 61 Roger Maris Cancer Center Home Run Walk. Your gift of any amount will make sure the center stays on the cutting edge of research and care, and continues to offer the survivorship program, nurse navigators, patient amenities like valet parking and the nutrition center, and so much more for patients like Steve.