Friends help clean, open Pelican Rapids golf course for owner with cancer

The Terry Sjostrom benefit begins Friday night, May 6, at the VFW in Pelican Rapids. The golf tournament is Saturday, along with the big dinner at Central Lutheran Church and a dance that night at the VFW. Donations are being accepted at any Bell Bank location.

Gold Course owner Terry Sjostrom, working with volunteers helping to open the Birchwood Golf Course in Pelican Rapids. Community volunteers came out to help after finding out Sjostrom is battling cancer.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

PELICAN RAPIDS, Minn. — It is going to be a big weekend in Pelican Rapids. It's the first golf tournament of the season, and a community is coming together for one of the favorites in town.

They are calling it "Team Up for Terry Days," and it is a commitment running all summer long.

With ice just coming off Prairie Lake outside Pelican Rapids, it seemed like a good week to open up Birchwood Golf Course. Ken Paulson and Bob Stivas, of Dent, still had winter coats on for their first round of the season. But here at this 60-year-old course, there is something much bigger going on than getting the first round in.

Volunteers have been lining up and showing up to prepare this course for opening. They are here to help Terry Sjostrom, owner of Birchwood. Al Ripley has been raking and mowing. Mike Glaseman running the mower. Others are cutting the greens.

"You lose 60 pounds in a couple months, something's wrong," Sjostrom said.


A few months ago, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He's in chemotherapy now, with a tough surgery to follow, and so many of his high school classmates from back in the day decided to take over the golf course the last few weeks.

"I didn't ask anybody; they just all came and volunteered," he said.

"Yeah, (he's) our golfing buddy. We help him," said Sjostrom's friend, Al Ripley.

We saw them raking, blowing, mowing. Stuff Sjostrom, despite being an old farm boy, can't do right now.

"It is just amazing. Small town, I can't thank these guys enough. (...) I mean, this is really great," Sjostrom said.

Starting Saturday, May 7, at 9 a.m ., there will be a two-day benefit for Sjostrom. It will be the largest golf tournament ever at Birchwood, with 45 teams of four. In the afternoon, there will be a meal at Central Lutheran Church. At night, there will be a big dance at the VFW. All for a man they call, "Shoe."

"People (...) really get involved, they come out and help. A lot of these guys that are out here helping, they are all golfers," said benefit organizer Gary Stadum.

We all know that's what we do around here. Small-town people each other out. But this, getting a golf course ready for opening, shows true dedication.


"Just shows (in a) small town, we hang together," Sjostrom said.

And because all know the next few months will be hard on Sjostrom, expect this outpouring of Pelican pride to continue all summer long.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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