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Trinity alumni rally around friend in Denver

When Dan Pattersons diagnosis of two separate cancers became known, it didnt take long for his friends and classmates at Dickinson Trinity High School to spring into action.

Patterson, who is a trial lawyer at Denver, Colo., first told his friend Howard Sage the news. Within weeks, Patterson was receiving cards and telephone calls from friends he hasnt seen since graduating from Trinity in 1970.

Patterson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and prostate cancer. A stem cell transplant was scheduled for October 2005.

They heard about that coming up and how serious the disease was. They first started sending me e-mails as I got through the transplant and recovered, he said.

The transplant failed. It didnt work at all, he said.

About February, they decided to come down for a visit. When the trip started getting organized, it started with a couple guys seeing me. By the time they were done, it was 24 of us, he said. There isnt anybody who can believe this including myself. I was absolutely blown away.

Patterson, who has lived in Denver for 27 years, began planning for the event that took place June 8-11.

The Dickinson connection came into play when efforts were made to secure tee times proved futile. Denvers golf courses were already booked for the weekend.

His mother Joan Walton of Dickinson offered to call one of her former students, golf course designer Jim Engh, who also lives in Denver.

He booked four foursomes on two consecutive days, Friday and Saturday, during mid-June, on two beautiful golf courses in the Denver area that he had designed, said Patterson.

The three days included golf, a Colorado Rockies baseball game, a tour of Denvers new LoDo District and lots of time for visiting.

During the Rockies baseball game, a tribute to Patterson was posted at the Rockies stadium, Coors Field. Later, his friends game him a baseball signed by all of them, as a sign of good health and good luck.

It was telling stories and hanging out with old friends, being goofy like we were in high school. We all take ourselves too serious now, he said.

During the first evening, Patterson was presented with a hat labeled, The Fuzz, which was his old nickname.

Back in high school, I had a big Afro. I really had curly hair, he said. So they had hats made with the nickname on it as a sign of solidarity when we met. We wore the hats all weekend.

Patterson is still battling the cancer and has been on chemotherapy for last 15 months. His myeloma numbers are down and he hopes to have a prostatectomy to remove the prostate cancer.

Thanks to the visit and kindness shown by his friends, Patterson said his spirits are up.

What is it about these guys? I cant tell you how important and uplifting it was to have this happen. It was an incredible experience. Theyre all busy people with jobs and families. For me, it was very touching, he said.

Patterson and his wife Susan have two grown children, Catherine Patterson and Julia Patterson.

My wife is from New York. She cant believe it, he said.

There is something special about this North Dakota connection. No one else I know can believe that more than 20 guys who I hung around with in grade school and high school would come together like this, he said.

Its unheard of, and yet, to us, it was so natural. Somewhere along the way, growing up in Dickinson, N.D., we learned the real lesson of what lifes about, and thats helping one another along the way. I cannot overstate the strength I have received from these friends in dealing with my health issues, he added.

The attendees were: Duke Adamski, Lakeville, Minn.; Bob Agnew, Denver; Arnie Badinger, Denver; Big Dave Beaudoin, Grants Pass, Ore.; Little Dave Beaudoin, Omaha, Neb.; Dewey Berger, Calgary, Alberta; Darrell Binek, Bismarck; Brian Bogner, Minneapolis, Minn.; Bill Ehli, Denver; Pat Engelhardt, Grand Lake, Colo.; Tom Filkowski, Fort Collings, Colo.

Also, Doug Henke, Fargo; Wayne Hatzenbiler, Ventura, Calif.; Doug Kappel, Abilene, Texas; Dan Patterson, Denver; Dave Narum, Denver; Richard Radant, Dallas, Texas; Jack Radant, San Diego, Calif.; Howie Sage, Bismarck; Brad Sigl, Seattle, Wash.; Bob Tescher, Bismarck; Jim Weiler, Phoenix, Ariz.; Mike Weir, Minneapolis; and Dave Willer, Phoenix.