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Kari Deimer’s family knows a little something about putting fun into the fight against cancer.

Her family will hold the 2nd Annual Wolf River Raft Race and Fundraiser on July 21 for the 2004 University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumna who passed away at age 31 after a short and intense battle with Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) in December 2010.

Deimer served the Army National Guard for 13 years; she did a tour of duty for Hurricane Katrina and Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was also a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend.

“It kind of helps us all planning a fun event. It keeps her memory alive and keeps us going,” said Renee Deimer, Kari’s sister-in-law, who with Kari’s brother Tim is planning the second annual event.

Renee Deimer described Kari as “cheerful and always smiling, vibrant and just full of life” which is why the Deimers could not think of a better way to raise money on behalf of Kari than to plan something fun.

Plus, before Kari had passed away, Renee Deimer said there was chatter among the Deimer family to start an event such as the Wolf River Raft Race they’ve planned for July 21.

The Wolf River Raft Race is exactly what it sounds like: A race down the river on man-made rafts. Some participants may also choose a canoe or kayak as their mode of transportation. The four and a half mile race begins in Hortonville and ends in New London. Various awards will be given to winners throughout the day.

Taken at the 2011 Wolf River Raft Race. (Photo provided by the Deimer family)

“The planning never really ends. I think that’s actually helped us a lot,” said Renee Deimer. “It’s helped our kids a lot, they were really close to Kari. It helps them remember the fun times they had with her.”

This year, the Deimers are hoping to raise about $10,000 for the Kari Deimer Answer to Cancer Corp., established on Kari’s behalf, which supports cancer research in the Fox Cities.

“We think our goal is very reachable,” Deimer said.

Deimer said she’s impressed with all the sponsorships from area companies, including Community First Credit Union, where Kari worked as a graphic designer upon graduating from UW Oshkosh.

“Sponsorships keep coming in every day, which is really touching,” Deimer said.

Beyond the raft race, the event promises food and music, raffles and games.

Due to Kari’s ties to UW Oshkosh, Renee Deimer said she’d love to have students participate in what she calls “a day of fun.”

Registration is $55. Complete details and race information can be found on the Wolf River Raft Race website.

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