This is our favorite creation by Craig Holgate of Craig’s Crafts. Isn’t it beautiful?!?
HIBBING — Every item created by Craig Holgate’s hands is one-of-a-kind.
And so is he.
“Actually, I’m somewhat surprised I’m still here,” said Holgate Monday while on the road to Duluth for a brain MRI. “I’ve been told a couple of times to get my stuff in order.”
The Hibbing resident is best known as host of The Early Morning Show on WTBX. He’s been open about his cancer battle – one he’s waged for about six years now – on the air.
“I don’t know what the plan is,” he continued. “I definitely credit my family and friends for their support, and my listeners for their continued support. I don’t know if all that love and prayers are keeping me here or what’s going on.”
Let’s back up to 2015.
Holgate underwent a routine colonoscopy on the recommendation of his doctor. He had turned 50 months earlier, so it was simply the thing to do.
“I came out with Stage 3 cancer in my colon and in my lymph nodes,” he recalled. “I had no signs, no symptoms.”
Life changed in an instant.
Holgate endured 8 months of chemotherapy, which doctors believed was successful. His port was removed, and he began a new normal.
Six months later, he suffered a seizure.
“That’s when they discovered it had traveled to my brain,” he said. “That has led to four brain radiation procedures and two brain surgeries.”
A full-body scan following the seizure revealed the cancer had also metastasized to his lungs.
Fast forward to today.
Holgate gets chemo regularly to combat the 10 to 12 tumors in his lungs. He has a brain MRI about every three months or so. The brain cancer has been stable in recent months.
Cancer has affected his mobility, but it hasn’t robbed him of his creativity. In fact, it’s become a form of therapy.
Holgate is the man behind Craig’s Crafts. His dive into woodwork was spurred by a snowflake – a 3 foot one to be used as outdoor décor, to be exact.
“We saw the craft project at a craft show the fall after I was given the ‘all clear,’” he recalled. “Without (wife) Tina knowing, I made her one and gave it to her. In the process of making it, I ended up with a lot of small, odd-shaped pieces.”
While growing up, Holgate was witness to his mom’s creative talents. She would always save things and say she’d make something out of them someday. He followed her lead by saving those pieces and began making things out of them.
“Then it morphed into more and more, and things started piling up,” he said. “A friend suggested doing a craft show, so I said, ‘OK, but if I’m going to do that, I want to give back.’”
Holgate’s wood crafts include ornaments, wall hangings and signs with sayings, animal prints, various themes such as holidays, camping and lake life. Some are simple, some are colorful. Some are glittery, some are plain. And yes, he’s made many snowflakes.
Most of Holgate’s craft ideas come to him in the middle of the night when he can’t fall back asleep.
“Other times I’ll look at the wood once and not know what to do with it. Then I look at it again, and say, ‘Oh, I’ll do this with it,’” he explained. “Each one is a one-of-a-kind. I never duplicate something intentionally. The main reason I keep everything one-of-a-kind is just because it keeps my mind more involved and keeps my mind off … well, you know what.”
Call his crafting a diversion, and he’ll agree. Making each item unique is part of the draw, part of the challenge.
“It’s a way to keep my mind more engaged in the process,” he continued. “I don’t want to rubber stamp a bunch of the same things out.”
Holgate estimates he’s made upward of 500 items over the past four years. He plans to show around 200 items at the Mesabi Mall Craft Show in Hibbing this weekend: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 16, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 17.
“Shows are fun to do. It’s fun to meet people,” he said. “Some people get really excited when they find an item. That’s fun to see.”
Holgates admits that some craft events prove physically taxing, but it’s the best way for him to share his crafts with the public. He doesn’t sell online, nor reserve items when he posts photos on Facebook.
“They have to come to the show,” he said.
Feedback on his work is always positive.
“And, quite honestly, I think people are more inclined to buy when they know a part of it is going to a good cause,” he added. “I put a tip jar out too and people usually tip pretty well. Sometimes the tips outweigh the profits.”
Holgate’s charities of choice are Angel Fund and the Itasca Area Cancer Crisis Fund. He plans to share a percentage of this show’s profits with Angel Fund, which provides financial assistance for Northeastern Minnesota residents battling cancer for expenses not covered by insurance.
He knew of Angel Fund before being diagnosed with cancer.
“I had done radio interviews about events they were holding and when cancer hit me, I got a call from them right way saying we have some gas cards for you. It really made an impact on me,” he said. “When you get that diagnosis, usually it comes out of the blue. You don’t know what’s going on, you’re unsure. Then to have someone reach out and say they want to help, that’s a big deal.”
Holgate has long been a friend to Angel Fund, Angel Fund President Kelly Grinsteinner confirmed.
“Craig is such a great guy, great help and great ambassador for Angel Fund,” she said. “In many ways, we consider him an ‘honorary Angel.’”
His efforts and contributions have directly impacted many fellow cancer patients.
“He’s already paying it forward, despite the fact that he still battles cancer,” said Grinsteinner. “That’s a true, one-of-a-kind warrior.” To apply, donate or learn more about Angel Fund, see www.angelfundrange.org. Catch Holgate on WTBX’s 93.9 The Early Morning Show from 5 to 9 a.m.
The Hibbing Foundation has been one of the longest-running supporters of Angel Fund, and this year is no different.
Angel Fund was recently granted $1,000 from the Carl M. and Dolores M. D’Aquila Family Fund and the Linda Forti Hibbing Foundation Fund for Hibbing residents battling cancer.
Thank you, Hibbing Foundation, for being a source we can count on each year. We truly appreciate your commitment to the Hibbing community and for being the wind beneath our wings!
Here are snippets from our recent “thank you” notes:
“I want to thank you for the generous gifting of the Walmart cards. There aren’t any words to convey our heartfelt appreciation for this expression of kindness and care. Please know that this is extremely helpful.”
“Thank you so much for your generous gift of the gift cards. They will be put to use with transportation costs to radiation appointments and doctor appointments. The food gift cards are very useful also to help purchase food she can tolerate. Thanks for thinking of our family.”
“A week ago I received two gas cards. I want to thank you so much for the generosity. It will help with future doctor appointments to the Cities. Again, thanks for all you do. What a wonderful organization!”
“Thank you so much for the gas cards you sent us. We will use them in our travels to Mayo in Rochester with thoughts of your kindness. We never know what tomorrow will bring, but God has a perfect plan for each of us.”
“I want to thank you again for the gas cards you sent me in 2018 as I was going through ovarian cancer. I am now cancer free and am continuing to get great checkups. Please accept this donation and pay it forward.”
Angel Fund is among the Round 4 recipients of the Itasca Area Community Response Fund. The $3,000 grant has been used to provide financial assistance to cancer patients in and around Itasca County.
We thank the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation and United Way of 1000 Lakes. Below is the full press release found at: https://uwlakes.org/blog/response-fund-rnd4/
Itasca Area Community Response Fund Awards $37,500 in Fourth Round of Funding
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last spring, the Itasca Area Community Response Fund has been helping the greater Itasca area navigate the crisis by providing grants to local nonprofits.
The Response Fund, a collaborative effort between the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation and United Way of 1000 Lakes is just one of several COVID-19 response efforts undertaken by the two founding organizations. United Way, among other activities, also instituted a summer meals program in underserved communities in summer 2020 and launched a volunteer recruitment initiative. The Community Foundation has enhanced its crisis funding for individuals, the Sharing Fund, by expanding the parameters of the program to address pandemic-specific needs. This includes funding for telehealth and other expenses caused by pandemic-related circumstances. The response fund has been perhaps the most wide-reaching initiative, having distributed $193,000 in grant funds to nonprofit organizations throughout the greater Itasca area.
For some organizations, response fund grants are a lifeline, allowing them to keep their staff employed and continue serving the ever-changing needs of the community. Other grants delivered virtual engagement opportunities for children and older adults, provided protective equipment to staff, volunteers, and clients, and in some cases, seeded new initiatives.
“As the pandemic unfolded, we saw basic needs such as access to medical care and transportation continue to grow. While we’ve been working on solutions for these issues, the current crisis has highlighted the need to act now to address them,” said Leah Oslin, Executive Director of the Forward Health Foundation, a previous Response Fund recipient. “The grant will allow us to help us fund the launch of the Essentia Health Community Care Paramedic Program in the Deer River Area, bringing medical and mental health care right to our patients, no matter how remote.”
Round 4 Response Fund recipients include:
Angel Fund ($3,000): Funds will allow the Angel Fund to continue providing assistance and support to cancer patients in and around Itasca County.
Itasca County Family YMCA ($10,000): Funds will allow the YMCA to continue serving the health and educational needs of people of all ages during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Legal Aid of Northeastern Minnesota ($4,000): Funds will help the organization increase its capacity to provide legal help to low-income clients in the face of an anticipated wave of post-moratorium evictions.
Moose Lodge 2023 ($5,000): Funds will help cover operating costs in the wake of shutdowns and cancellations.
Northern Community Radio ($4,000): Funds will help cover the cost of equipment needed for staff to effectively work remotely and connect with the communities they serve.
Project Care ($1,500): Funds will help cover the cost of cleaning supplies and protective equipment, allowing Project Care to keep staff, clients, and volunteers safe as the clinic provides in-person care to patients.
The Reif Center ($4,500): Funds will help the Reif Center provide accessible programming to combat social isolation in older adults, including low-cost digital performances and free virtual BINGO games.
Support Within Reach ($5,500): Funds will help Support Within Reach build capacity as they continue the work of providing sexual violence advocacy and building awareness.
The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation and United Way of 1000 Lakes cover the costs of administering the fund, so that 100% of available funds are given to the community. In partnership with representatives from other area funders, they make up an advisory board that makes allocation decisions.
The Community Response Fund was created in April of 2020 just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to reach Itasca County, and since then, has provided crisis assistance grants to 30 nonprofit agencies that serve Itasca County and surrounding communities. Gifts from individual and major donors supported the Fund, which was designed to expand local capacity to address immediate and emerging needs as efficiently and effectively as possible. To learn more about the Response Fund, including a more extensive review of the Fund’s history and a complete list of grant recipients, visit uwlakes.org/community-response-fund.
About United Way of 1000 LakesSince 1963, the United Way of 1000 Lakes has partnered with local nonprofits to identify critical issues, create partnerships, and raise funds to help people in the Itasca Area. Mobilizing the caring power of the communities it serves, the organization’s mission drives work to create a happier, healthier community. They accomplish this by inspiring collaboration, fundraising, and volunteerism. Learn more at uwlakes.org.
About Grand Rapids Area Community FoundationThe Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area a better place to live. We invite you to become part of the great work we do and include us in the conversation with your financial or estate planner to answer the question, “What good do you want your money to do?” For more information, visit our website at www.gracf.org or schedule a visit by calling (218) 999-9100.