Fort Dodge teenager is honored for her Service to Mankind

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Terry Moehnke, Noon Sertoma member, right, wipes a tear from his eye as he talks about the work Morgan Border has put in to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer Thursday afternoon at Pizza Ranch. Border looks on at left.

A St. Edmond Catholic School student who organized an event for breast cancer awareness as a middle-schooler was surprised with an award for her efforts during the Fort Dodge Noon Sertoma Club’s meeting Thursday.

Morgan Border, 17, who is now a junior in high school, was the recipient of the Noon Sertoma Club Service to Mankind award. It’s the highest honor the club gives out to nonmembers.

Terry Moehnke, a member of Noon Sertoma, presented the award to her at Pizza Ranch. About 30 people were in attendance.

“At an age where most children are content with playing with friends, Morgan Border has started and expanded a community activity that has donated thousands of dollars to our local cancer center and the American Cancer Society to assist those affected by breast cancer,” Moehnke said prior to presenting the award.

“Active in 4-H for several years, Morgan has been a club mentor, officer and serves on the county council. She has worked with her family at the local men’s homeless shelter, assisted with The Salvation Army Thanksgiving dinner and chaired her club’s Back to School bash. She has been active in her school as a class officer, involved in choir, plays saxophone in the band, jazz band, runs track, swims the breaststroke on the swim team, and is a member of the National Honor Society. Not your typical high school student.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Sheila Border, of Fort Dodge, at left, snaps a picture of her daughter, Morgan Border, 17, a junior at St. Edmond Catholic School, as she holds the Noon Sertoma Service to Mankind award during a meeting at Pizza Ranch Thursday afternoon. The award is the highest honor that can be given to a nonmember.

Border started Stay-A-Breast in 2014.

Stay-A-Breast brings swimmers together with breast cancer survivors to swim laps and raise money to support cancer research and treatment costs.

The proceeds are split evenly between the Trinity Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society.

Border said later that when she developed the idea for Stay-A-Breast, she wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before.

She was surprised at the success it achieved.

“My first goal was to raise $5,000,” she said. “I raised $8,000.”

Moehnke said in his introduction to the award, “Coming up with an idea is the easy part of any fundraiser. The logistics of the event such as a location, insurance, logo, publicity and who would participate did not faze her in the early stages. Each obstacle was addressed and she moved on to the next item. Morgan reached out to local cancer fundraising groups, involved her swim coach and teammates, and soon had the project underway. Event posters, t-shirts, interviews with radio and newspapers, talks to school classes, and a YouTube video was produced to promote the event the first year.”

Moehnke said more than 60 people swam 2,000 laps the first year of the event. She was able to donate more than $8,000 to local agencies.

“She has continued to expand the program each year and has been able to involve football and swim team members from Iowa State University the last two years,” he said.

According to Moehnke, more than $50,000 has been donated and distributed since she began the event.

“Morgan has led by example and has created a legacy at an early age,” he said. “She has been able to look at seemingly impossible tasks and find a way to make it work.”

Moehnke recalled a time when Border spoke directly to Paul Rhoads about the project. Rhoads was the head football coach at Iowa State University at the time.

“Coach Rhoads was impressed with her accomplishments and offered her his contact information,” Moehnke said. “Because of this meeting, Morgan signed a contract with the team which allowed players an opportunity to swim at the event and they have returned with members of the swim team for the second year. Never afraid to approach people to discuss the importance of her cause, she has been able to build business and community awareness to her passion and as a result she has directly influenced people that are struggling with health issues.”

Moehnke said Border’s leadership skills have evolved in recent years.

“Books have been written that incorporate theories and flow charts on how to achieve success — Morgan didn’t read any of them,” Moehnke said laughing. “Her ability to approach people with wide-eyed innocence has opened doors and led to the creation of a successful event that benefits our community.”

He added, “It was not an overnight process. Morgan’s involvement over the past seven years with 4-H developed life skills such as communication, project knowledge, leadership and citizenship. With the support and encouragement of her family, Morgan has built on her experiences to become the driving force behind volunteer effort that continues to make a difference to those in need.”

Moehnke complimented Border for taking on the Stay-A-Breast project by herself.

“Group efforts reduce the workload and brings us together as a service club,” he said. “Together the club members have learned to delegate tasks to reduce the burden on individual members, yet Morgan has tackled the daunting task of creating and managing an event by herself. She has been able to build awareness of a disease that affects many people and their families as well as providing funds that aid with transportation costs, insurance copays and gas cards during what can be the worst experience of their lives, she has affected unknown numbers of lives. She does it because she thinks it is fun, but surely there is more to her motivation than that.

“Sertoma is all about Service to Mankind and we all know fun is an important aspect of a successful event. But we need to recall that Morgan started this event at the age of 12 while in seventh grade.”

He added, “She has skills and compassion beyond her years and has learned to give back to her community at an early age. Noon Sertoma appreciates her accomplishments and honors her with our highest honor we can give to a nonmember — our Service to Mankind award.”

Border thanked those in attendance for their support.

“I would really like everyone to know how much I appreciate their support of Stay-A-Breast because together we are making a difference,” she said. “I know almost everyone in here has been affected by cancer. It’s important to help any way you can in the community.”