Cabin Fever: Escape the cold winter with a hot event for a cool cause

Annual event raises funds for housing and support for families of seriously ill pediatric patients and high-risk mothers, collecting more than $1.2 million since launch

Cabin Fever
Attendees at a previous Cabin Fever benefit dinner.
Contributed / Cabin Fever Committee
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DICKINSON — The City of Dickinson may be known for its harsh winters, but one event has been warming the hearts of its residents for the past 31 years. The Cabin Fever benefit, organized by the Cabin Fever Committee, brings the community together to support the Ronald McDonald House in Bismarck, which provides housing and support for families of seriously ill pediatric patients and high-risk mothers.

The Ronald McDonald House in Bismarck has provided housing for seriously ill pediatric patients, high-risk mothers and their families since 1992. That same year, the people of Dickinson launched the Cabin Fever benefit, which has helped more than 5,000 North Dakota families since.

This year's benefit will be held at the Dickinson Eagles Club on Saturday, Feb. 11.

Mike Odegaard became involved in this benefit as a member of the Roughrider Commission, which he served on for nearly 20 years until the demands of parenthood compelled him to step away from that role for a while. Now he’s back and serves as chairman of the Cabin Fever Committee.

“Life has allowed me to come back and volunteer again. This is my third year back on the committee,” he said. “The bottom line is to help families deal with a tough, tough moment in their life. And you know, to have one less thing to worry about in terms of lodging or housing when they're dealing with a sick child.”


Odegaard added that he feels a deep sense of personal connection to beneficiaries of this charity.

“Roughly four years ago, our grandson had a medical issue where we ended up in Fargo… Unfortunately, we weren't able to get in. However, fortunately, it was there. And obviously that it was full means it was a vital, vital need,” he said, explaining that it renewed his passion to help families with children battling serious medical conditions. “We always knew it had a significant impact on families who were in that situation. But we got a firsthand taste.”

He said the benefit has raised more than $1.2 million since it was launched, and that the goal is to improve each year. According to a fact sheet provided by Cabin Fever, the eight bedroom house serves an average of 48 Stark County area families per year, who stay a collective 691 nights.

“We always want to do better than the previous year. But we are always appreciative of what we're able to raise and we try to make it go as far as we can for the house. So there's no outright goal other than to always try to do better than the year before,” Odegaard said. “Through wonderful community support of the local businesses and people, they're so philanthropic. The Ronald McDonald House has touched more lives in Dickinson and southwest North Dakota than one would think.”

Cabin Fever stays in close contact with the Bismarck McDonald house, which provides them with a wishlist to better serve patients. This includes normal hotel amenities such as linens, pillows, televisions, etc. The group also helps with maintenance and repairs to the house in ways that support Western Edge businesses.

“We go one step further. If it needs service, we will hire somebody from Dickinson to go down and take care of whatever that might be putting in a new window or a new door, again, all in an effort to spend it where it was raised. Because we feel that that's important,” he said.

Social hour begins at 4 p.m. A BBQ beef dinner will be served at 6 p.m. and the silent auction closes at 7 p.m. There will also be a live auction, and raffle tickets will be sold on site for $10 each. Two cash prizes totaling $4,500, three rifles and a quarter of beef will be awarded among six lucky winners. Attendees will enjoy dancing and live music from local favorite band E-Z Street. Breakfast will be served at midnight with sausage, pancakes and scrambled eggs.

Tickets for the Cabin Fever Benefit can be purchased at the door or in advance at the Dickinson Eagles Club, which is located at 31 First Ave E. Anyone who buys a ticket will be entered to win one of four $100 bills to be awarded throughout the night, those drawn must be present to win.


Auction items from a previous Cabin Fever benefit.
Contributed / Cabin Fever Committee

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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