Money raised for cancer through annual S.A.M. Slam

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

The sixth annual S.A.M. Slam took place July 19 at the Little Falls Community Middle School tennis courts. While little known in the community, people come from across the country to participate in the fundraiser.

Held in honor of Stephanie Ann Marshik (S.A.M.), $4,000 was raised this year for the Coborn Cancer Center.

Samuel Decker, Stephanie Ann Marshik’s 11-year-old son, presented $4,000 to Marc Vaillancourt from the CentraCare Health Foundation in St. Cloud, who accepted it for the Coborn’s Cancer Center. Both he and his father, Mark Decker, participated in the event. The ceremony came after the sixth annual S.A.M. Slam, a tennis tournament and fundraiser honoring Marshik, who passed away from cancer in 2009.

Samuel Decker, Stephanie Ann Marshik’s 11-year-old son, presented $4,000 to Marc Vaillancourt from the CentraCare Health Foundation in St. Cloud, who accepted it for the Coborn’s Cancer Center. Both he and his father, Mark Decker, participated in the event. The ceremony came after the sixth annual S.A.M. Slam, a tennis tournament and fundraiser honoring Marshik, who passed away from cancer in 2009.

Marshik, whose hometown was Little Falls, passed away Sept. 12, 2008. In 2002, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After thinking she had beat the disease, five years later the cancer returned and she passed away.

Marshik loved tennis her entire, short life. She picked up a racket when very young and learned to play through the Little Falls Community Services program. She attended tennis camps in the summer and played for the Jack Bowe Tennis Academy. Her dream came true when she played for the Little Falls Flyer’s varsity tennis team. After high school, she continued to wield her racket while attending Concordia College.

The S.A.M. Slam began when a schoolmate, Karla Bjorge, concocted the idea on how she could honor her friend. She approached Marshik’s parents, Dick and Pat, and was given permission to go ahead with the idea.

“Fifteen to 20 teams participate each year,” said Pat. “This year we also had a children’s team.”

There are two people on a team and opponents are chosen by drawing names. The best team after 10 games wins the traveling trophy.

Pat and Dick serve food throughout the day, with snacks at the courts and a barbecue dinner at their home in the evening.

The cost per team to vie for the trophy is $50 which includes the food and a t-shirt. Pat said many from the community, friends and family donate to the fund without playing tennis.

While this year the money raised went to the Coborn Cancer Center, in other years scholarships have been given out to young women or the money has gone to the Relay for Life.

Friends of Stephanie’s from around the country come to Little Falls to play tennis on the second Saturday of July each year. States represented include California, Colorado and Virginia and cities in Minnesota included Minneapolis, Detroit Lakes and of course, Little Falls. Those involved knew Stephanie from attending Little Falls Community High School and Concordia College.

“This tournament is a way for all of us to pay tribute to an incredible person who touched so many of us and loved the sport of tennis,” said Bjorge in 2009.

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