Todd Oakes
Todd Oakes
"I have little interest in the title Man of the Year - but I do have a passion to help LLS raise money for blood cancer research that will help save lives and help cancer patients like myself," said Todd Oakes, assistant coach for the Minnesota Gophers baseball team and Spring Grove native.

The yearly "Man and Woman of the Year" competition is organized by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. For the competition, candidates raise funds for the organization and each dollar counts as one "vote." The titles are awarded to the man and woman with the most "votes" at the end of 10 weeks. The 10-week program began on March 6 and will conclude on May 16.

Oakes was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June of 2012 and underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy. In September of 2012, Oakes had a stem cell transplant and spent 30 days in the hospital. Fortunately, his brother was a match and willing to be a donor for his transplant where he received 5.1 million of his healthy stem cells.

"I won the lottery! Currently I am in complete remission and have a renewed health. I am back coaching on a full-time basis at the U of M and Gopher Baseball," Oakes said of his recovery on his fundraising page.

Oakes reflects of his experiences as a child and youth in Spring Grove in great detail, noting that both he and his wife, Terri, are Spring Grove natives. At Spring Grove High School, Oakes was a three-sport athlete and earned 13 varsity letters in baseball, basketball and football.

"Terri and I were both born and raised in the same town (Spring Grove) and grew up together. Even though we didn't really start dating until our senior year of high school, I had strong feelings for her during our earlier years in kindergarten together.

"We (Todd and Terri) loved growing up in such a wonderful, small community. It was because of these experiences in Spring Grove, in large part, why we chose to live in Jordan as I took the U of M coaching position."

Oakes also spoke of his personal faith in relation to his upbringing in Spring Grove. "My faith story begins at a young age and being born, baptized and confirmed into the Lutheran church at Trinity Lutheran in my hometown of Spring Grove. I still remember attending Sunday school and Wednesday religion classes while growing up.

"It seems like it takes adversity or setbacks in our lives before we really step back and put things in perspective and draw closer to God. At least that's how it kind of worked for me. I felt myself trusting God more and more as I struggled with my career in professional baseball - both as a player and a coach." 

Along with raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Oakes is currently traveling across the nation with the Gophers baseball team.

Donations to the Team Oakes campaign can be sent to 770 Leon Street in Jordan, MN 55352 with checks made out to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Donations can also be made through his fundraising web page at Oakes also posts weekly updates to the page.