Mac Nelson, at right, is shown with his father, Manford Nelson, at his junior prom last spring. Manford died this summer and Mac’s mother, Donna, died in 2004. A benefit is being planned to help cover expenses for Mac’s senior year at Mabel-Canton.
Mac Nelson, at right, is shown with his father, Manford Nelson, at his junior prom last spring. Manford died this summer and Mac’s mother, Donna, died in 2004. A benefit is being planned to help cover expenses for Mac’s senior year at Mabel-Canton.
MacKenzie Nelson, affectionately known as "Mac" to his friends and family, has experienced two great losses in his young life. In 2004, he lost his mother, Donna, to a pulmonary embolism and earlier this summer, he lost his father, Manford, to cancer. His friends, family and the Mabel-Canton community are joining forces to try and provide Mac with everything he needs to enjoy his senior year and plan for his future.

A benefit will be held this Sunday, Sept. 15, at the Mabel American Legion. The funds raised will help pay for expenses for Mac's senior year in high school, such as class dues and senior trip expenses. It will also help pay for any future education Mac pursues.

The event on Sunday begins with a lunch, by free-will donation, at 11 a.m. and continues until 2 p.m. Music by Karaoke Joe will be offered from 1 to 4 p.m.

The local youth and members of the senior class will be helping with the event.

Mac is currently living with his aunt and uncle, Sandy and Kevin Nelson. Sandy explained that the community has already been supportive of Mac with someone paying for his athletic fees for the year. Mac is a three-sport senior, playing football, basketball and baseball at Mabel-Canton.

Just this past Friday night, the Houston Hurricanes football team presented Mac with a card signed by all the team members and a gift of money showing their support through the upcoming year and beyond. "That is what I call team spirit," Sandy added.

Mac is not sure yet where he will attend college. He is planning on going to a two-year school, but is still unsure of what he would like to study.

Mac said that after his mother died in 2004, his father raised him well and everyone has told him what a wonderful job he did. "He was assured that I will be well looked after by all my family members and those that care about me," Mac added. "One of his last wishes was to see me graduate. Well, he didn't make it long enough to see that but, again, was assured that I will graduate and go off to a college of my choosing, I'm just not sure what for or where."

Manford was diagnosed with stage-four, terminal cancer on July 16 and died on Aug. 6.

Mac explained that he had been seeing a doctor for a couple of months because he hadn't been feeling very well. "He knew there was something wrong, but didn't know what," Mac explained. "He had made numerous trips to the emergency room, drove himself most of the time, but they couldn't find anything. In July he found out he had kidney stones, and had them removed via laser in La Crosse."

Approximately one week later, the same day Mac was going down to a doctor appointment in La Crosse to have some stitches removed from his face, due to a prior incident that happened to him, Manford was driving himself down to the emergency room in Decorah because he still wasn't feeling well.

"That day they transferred him to La Crosse by ambulance," Mac said. "At first they said he may have some stones in his gallbladder, but nothing to make him that sick, but his liver and everything else looked good. Needless to say, two days later, they were removing his gall bladder, which was full of stones, and something looked suspicious."

The doctors ran some more tests and a PET scan, which came back showing that Manford was full of cancer.

Thankfully, Manford was surrounded by his children and a couple of his sisters when he received this terrible news. Mac has three older sisters, Melissa, Michelle and Holly, and an older brother, Michael.

The doctors told Manford to come back in a couple of weeks to decide if he wanted to start chemo treatments and in the meantime, he was residing in the Green Lea Manor where his children and family came to visit as much as possible.

Mac and Sandy shared that on his last visit to the hospital, which was only two weeks after his diagnosis, the doctors told him the cancer was so advanced they didn't feel chemo was a good choice. It was either quality of life or quantity.

"The doctors and hospice told him to go home, party it up with his family and that there was no need to come back for any further doctor appointments," Mac said.

Mac's strength is evident as he reflects on the loss of his father.

"Dad was a very special person, his children always came first," he said. "He enjoyed going to area parades, '50s and '60s weekend in his hometown of Mabel, and spending quality time with his children, sisters and brother."

Manford's siblings include Stanley Nelson, Beatrice Sjarpe, Diane Thorson, Carolyn Gulbranson, Charyl Wiste, Marianne Rosaaen, Sandy Nelson and Dorene Nelson.

"Dad was very good at going to visit people in the hospital and nursing home. He loved talking and spending time with those he cared about," Mac continued. "Dad will be dearly missed by all those that had the pleasure of knowing him. We know he is in a much better place now, away from pain and suffering."

Mac especially wanted to thank the nursing home staff as they made his father's last days as comfortable as possible. He also wanted to say thank you to everyone else who has reached out to offer support and to those who will do so in the future.

If one would like to support the benefit, but cannot attend in person, one may send a donation, with check made out to Nethercut Trust Account, to Sandy Benson, P.O. Box 535, Mabel, MN 55954.