3 decades of giving

Over 30 years have come and gone but the giving nature of the Western Edge still remains. The Roughrider Commission will host the 30th Cabin Fever Benefit in February, to help benefit Bismarck’s Ronald McDonald House.

The Cabin Fever Benefit is put on by the rough rider commission and has an estimated total value of over a million dollars they have donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Bismarck. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)
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Over 30 years have come and gone but the giving nature of the Western Edge still remains. The Roughrider Commission will host the 30th Cabin Fever Benefit in February, to help benefit Bismarck’s Ronald McDonald House.

The Cabin Fever Benefit will begin with a social at 4 p.m. Feb. 13, at The Eagles Club, and then at 5 p.m. a BBQ Beef dinner will be served. Live music by E-Z Street will accompany the event. Over the years, this benefit has contributed over $1 million to the Ronald McDonald House, Cabin Fever Commision Member Chris Kleinwaechter said.

“I can't emphasize enough how incredibly thankful and blessed we are to live in a community that we live in, that when we reach out to businesses they absolutely go above and beyond with the donations they give us,” Kleinwaechter said. “We are just so lucky because without our businesses we can't do what we do without them.”

The Ronald McDonald House in Bismarck opened its doors July 18, 1992, and has served over 5,000 families in that time, providing a room to stay in for families whose children seek medical care. Within recent years, the Roughrider Commission has replaced 13 tubs and showers combinations, replaced all the windows, installed keyless entry for each room and much more.

“We keep our money local,” Kleinwaechter said. “Even though the house is in Bismarck, when we replaced all the windows, they are bought here in Dickinson and usually the contractors also come from in town. The businesses are so amazing and generous with their support so we want to support them in return.”


The event will feature games and raffles such as heads or tails, poker, horse race and other gambling contests. Both the horse race and the hat game will allow people to participate live and virtually. Virtual participation will be a big part of this year’s benefit including the silent auction that will be completely online.

“This year it will look different than it has in the past due to the (COVID-19) pandemic. We are trying to accommodate restriction guidelines while still getting people to come out while being safe ... The items may be there for people to look at but they will not be able to bid on a piece of paper, it will all be virtual. We think that will be great because we would like to reach more people,” Kleinwaechter said. “A lot of the staff from the Ronal McDonald house like to come to support us but sometimes are not able to due to the weather … So all those people who won't be able to come can still participate, no matter what the capacity number is or what the weather is like.”

The virtual auction will be accessible by texting “rough” to the number 72727, to which it will respond with a link to the auction. Each item will be numbered and will have a set minimum bid and bidding increments.

“The beauty of it is if there is an item that you really want but you are working that night and you don't have time to watch that item, the website will also tell you the value of that item and let you set your maximum bid,” Kleinwaechter said. “It will notify you if you've been outbid or if you have won the item."

The auction is definitely different with only five live auction items and the rest being virtual, but the meaning is still the same, she said, adding, it’s about helping others in the area.

“Aside from helping out the house, if we know a family with a child under the age of 18, with need of medical care, then they are eligible to stay at the house. Anyone in our region, this whole side of the state or even Montana or South Dakota, if they are traveling to Bismarck, Rochester, Fargo or whatever it may be, whether it be a illness or injury, ... if we are able and we have the funds, we try to help them with a gas voucher and try to help them with their stay at the Ronald McDonald House because the house does ask for a donation,” Kleinwaechter said.

“So if we have that information we try to help if we have the funds, and that also another place where the proceeds go that we raise at the night of the benefit. “

The house is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but for those who could benefit from this type of help, can either reach out to the Ronal McDonald office here in Dickinson at 701-483-8818 or contact any of the Roughrider committee members at 701-483-7721.


The website should go live two weeks prior to the benefit for people to create accounts with billing information and to view auction items.

Any member of the Roughrider Commission, Cabin Fever Commision or Dickinson Convention and Visitors Bureau will be selling raffles for $10 each, in cash. The top raffle starts at $3,000, followed by $1,500, then four $500 winners. The final winner will receive a quarter of beef.

One item that is unique to the 30th anniversary of the benefit is a McDonald's quit made from a print fabric that is no longer available. The fabric is flannel and were originally curtains at the Ronald McDonald House. (Josiah C. Cuellar/The Dickinson Press)

Josiah C. Cuellar was born in San Angelo, Texas, a small rural community in the western part of the state known for its farming, ranching and beautiful Concho River. A Texas A&M San Antonio graduate specializing in multi-media reporting, Cuellar is an award winning photographer and reporter whose work focuses on community news and sports.
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