FARGO — It’s been 18 years since Enrique Iglesias’ song “Hero” was a hit, but Jesse James has been spinning it a lot lately at Big 98.7. With good reason.

The program director at the Fargo station has been playing the tune over the last month to celebrate donations to its Bras on Big 98.7 campaign, which this year set a new record.

The annual program, running the month of October, raises funds on behalf of Essentia Health Cancer Center to assist local women fighting breast cancer.

“It’s spectacular. Our sponsors and listeners all did a great job,” James says.

This year, $36,500 was raised — $14,000 more than the campaign brought in last year and shattering the record of $25,000 set in 2018.

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The total is all the more impressive considering that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic made in-person participation extremely difficult this year.

In the past, people have dropped off bras at the radio station and Corwin Automotive had pledged $5 per bra up to $10,000 in total donations. Another fundraising sponsor, D-S Beverages, donated 25 cents for every glass of Michelob Ultra poured and $1 for every case of Michelob Ultra sold through October.

“We were kind of worried. A lot of our money comes from people going out to drink,” James says, referring to bars and restaurants facing limited capacity during the pandemic.

Supporters of the Bras on 98.7 campaign could sign up at Corwin Automotive and the company would donate $5 per name.   Ultimately, the company donated $10,000. Courtesy of Big 98.7 / Special to The Forum
Supporters of the Bras on 98.7 campaign could sign up at Corwin Automotive and the company would donate $5 per name. Ultimately, the company donated $10,000. Courtesy of Big 98.7 / Special to The Forum

So they had to get creative this year. James did live remote broadcasts from Corwin, which hosted a big pink board. Listeners were encouraged to put their name on the board with Corwin matching $5 for every name — resulting in a $10,000 donation.

D-S Beverages again ran its Michelob Ultra promotion, raising $9,500 locally.

D-S employees also stepped up in a big way. Each employee is given $1,000 to donate to a charity as part of the company’s Pay It Forward program, and 17 workers locally dedicated their funds to go to the cause.

D-S Beverages owner and president Doug Restemayer says 10 employees in the Bemidji, Minn., area followed the lead, and the company ultimately made a $12,000 donation there to Sanford Health’s breast cancer awareness program.

“It was a real feel-good moment for our team,” Restemayer says of his employees’ participation.

“We killed it,” James says of the group effort leading to a record fundraising achievement.

Essentia uses the funds raised for gas cards, hotels, groceries and other items to support women and their families as they battle breast cancer.

“We all need to come together to make it easy as we can for women fighting for their lives, for their families,” James says.