CureSearch Walk Forever Heroes – Anna’s Army

In the spring of 2009, Anna Rogotzke was a happy and seemingly-healthy two-year-old who loved to sing and dance and play with her two big brothers.  She loved Dora the Explorer, Disney princesses – especially Cinderella – giraffes, and anything pink, purple, and sparkly.   

Three months after her second birthday, a tummy ache eventually led to a diagnosis of stage IV Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of muscle tissue.  Numerous tumors were found in her abdomen.  Anna was treated at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, about three hours from home, and her 54+-week treatment included many weeks in the hospital, surgeries, radiation, and grueling chemotherapy. Despite all that she endured, she amazed everyone with her cheerful attitude and her ability to find joy even during this difficult time.  The bad days didn’t keep her down for long.  At the end of her treatment plan, Anna had No Evidence of Disease! 

But, only a few months later, it was discovered that this highly recurring cancer had returned with a vengeance.  First, second, and third opinions gave little hope of a cure, so a plan was put into place to enjoy every day and treasure every possible moment.  Last resort chemotherapies had little effect, and Anna was called home to heaven on her fourth birthday.   

Anna will always be remembered for her giggles, her singing and dancing, her spunkiness, the way she loved life, and the way she loved Jesus.  She made an impact on every person who knew her and all who followed her story and prayed for her cure.  She will never be forgotten!’’ 


In the spring of 2011, a few months after Anna had died, her family was brainstorming ways to honor her memory and make a difference for those who continued to battle cancer.  Less than two months later, the first Anna Rogotzke Memorial Kickball Tournament was held in Anna’s small hometown of Sanborn, MN.  Incredible family and community support made this event more successful than was thought possible, and there was no doubt it would have to become an annual event.   

2020 saw the tenth annual tournament – ten years of working together to make a difference in the fight against cancer. Each year, 10-15 adult, co-ed teams have competed in a double-elimination kickball tournament, with a number of teams participating all ten years.  Additional activities have included bounce houses, water slides, kids’ kickball games, Bingo, face-painting, concessions, scavenger hunts, and the guess-where-the-calf-will-poop “Poop Plot Raffle.”  A growing number of generous individuals and businesses have willingly sponsored the tournament and given volunteer hours to the event over the years.  In ten years, this event has raised over $120,000, which has been split between CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, typically directed to the Twin Cities CurseSearch Walk where Anna’s family walks as Team Anna’s Army, and the Rein in Sarcoma Foundation.    


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