For 38 years, the Roger Maris celebrity golf tournament has been raising funds in the Fargo-Moorhead area. For the past two years though, Roger Maris All-Star Week has expanded the mission, adding youth sports clinics, family events, and more to boost the Maris family legacy, and raise money for the Roger Maris Cancer Center.
“I think Dad would be excited to see where it’s at and how it’s grown and where the community has really wanted it to grow to. So we’re proud of it,” said Kevin Maris.
Passing the torch
This year Sanford Health, and the Maris family itself, began passing the torch to the next generation with multiple new initiatives, including the Maris Academy, led by Roger Maris’ granddaughter, Jazz Maris Naglee.
“We are getting a group of teenagers together and the goal is to give them skills, to help develop a vision for their future careers in their life. So helping them identify their strengths and the weaknesses and exploring a variety of different career paths that they could pursue after high school, whether that be going into trade (or) going to college,” said Maris Naglee.
Just like this new program intends to help younger people find their future paths, Roger Maris Jr. sees his daughter’s first year of involvement with All-Star Week as the future of his family’s involvement with the Fargo, North Dakota region.
“She never got to meet my dad. Having this event up here over the years has been cool for her to hear about her granddad’s legacy,” said Maris Jr. “But now we’re getting old and they’re coming on. So we’ve got a lot of people that can continue this legacy on forward. And hopefully this will continue and grow and the cancer center will continue to thrive and do some amazing things.”
New at Roger Maris Cancer Center
Another new announcement involved the Roger Maris Cancer Center expanding its bone marrow transplant services, which began last year with an announcement during All-Star Week. This year, a ribbon cutting ceremony marked the beginning of Phase 2 of transplants, led by Dr. Seth Maliske and the entire team at the cancer center.
“In the near future, we’ll begin allogeneic stem cell transplant in which other people serve as donors for patients,” said Dr. Maliske, a hematologist and oncologist at Sanford Fargo. “Stem cell transplant, I think, was the last piece of the puzzle to really make us fully comprehensive and able to treat all cancers in all parts of the cancer journey.”
Bone marrow transplants have already saved lives in Fargo, allowing patients to receive treatment closer to home, which is something even some of the celebrities are able to relate to.
“I have personal experience with this,” said Chad Greenway, a former Minnesota Viking and native South Dakotan. “My dad went through a bone marrow transplant back at Rochester. This was in 2012-13, and the commitment to have to drive (was a) hardship on our family. The cost, hotels, not being near your home. I mean, everything is just tough. So if you live in Minot and you have to get a transplant, you’re not going to the (Twin) Cities. You’re not going down to Omaha or any place else that can do it. You’re right here in your region.”
Legacy beyond baseball
Around the country, Roger Maris will forever be known for his home run record, but here in Fargo, his legacy continues to grow beyond the game.
“The fact that they’ve been able to perpetuate his memory now for 38 years here with this event, and all the good things that have come out of it, it’s very significant,” added Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.
“I think my dad would be really proud to see where it is today. We’ve had a lot of kids through the years, and for them to have the same interest and passion to help the community, raise funds for charities and the Roger Maris Cancer Center, it’s a thrill for us,” said Kevin Maris.
- Childhood leukemia survivor now a nurse at Sanford Fargo
- Transplant program going strong one year, many patients later
- First bone marrow transplant patient healing close to home