Tricounty News

Rudy’s Bucket Brigade

Local man helps others with their Bucket Lists

The Christmas season is full of Holiday spirit, giving presents and spreading cheer.

But for one local man, that spirit is a year-long quest.

It was last July when Tom “Rudy” Ruether, owner of the Pearl Lake Lodge in Marty, was reading a story about a woman who had cancer and had started a Bucket List of things she wanted to do before she died.

Some of the things were simple – like spending a weekend at a cabin. Ruether realized that he could help this woman scratch off at least that item from her wish list. 
So he called the reporter who wrote the story and offered his cabin for her use. The reporter called the woman Michalene Sullivan of Hillman, and told her of Ruether’s offer.

 

Sullivan was dumbfounded. Who would do such a thing? She called Ruether and chatted and then, one weekend this past August, she was spending a peaceful W-Santa-Rudyweekend at Ruether’s cabin.

Then Ruether got another idea. If he could help one person feel better for at least a little while as they went through something like cancer, what more could be done for others.

Before you knew it, a group of his friends, acquaintances and people he didn’t even know, had joined forces. A non-profit group called My Bucket List was created.

Today My Bucket List has a “Bucket Brigade” of more than 300 people. The group doesn’t solicit money or funds, it’s main focus is to use a network of resources and volunteers to fulfill Bucket List wishes.

“It’s been amazing,” Ruether said last week as he sat in the Pearl Lake Lodge talking about what has transpired with the movement in less than six months.

“So many people want to join the Bucket Brigade. The response has been overwhelming.”

Once the group learns of someone who has a Bucket List wish, folks in the Bucket Brigade who are able to help, step forward. Ruether said the group has fulfilled about a dozen requests so far, whether it is taking someone for an airplane ride to having a photographer take family pictures.

“Our goal is to do whatever we can do,” he said.

Ruether said that his desire to help others may have been spawned by the passing of his father this past May.

Or, it may have been all the negative news that is reported today. By seeing the generosity of the volunteers who have joined the Bucket Brigade, Ruether said his faith in people has been restored.

“America is still strong. I think that’s way cool. This network of people just melts you.”

Ruether said complete strangers have stepped forward to help.

“People I’ve never met want to help. We have people chomping at the bit to help. I’ve had people in other states asking if they can help or if there is a chapter in their state they can join.”

So far, the group has only the local chapter, but in the future – who knows, Ruether said.

Ruether said he wants to hear from folks who have a Bucket List request. About 900 post cards have been printed and distributed outlining the group’s mission – “to use our network of resources and volunteers to fulfill simple Bucket List wishes for terminally ill adults in Minnesota.”

Anyone who would like to join the Bucket Brigade can e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you would like to nominate the Bucket List of a loved one, you can visit the website at www.mybucket
listmn.org
.

Ruether said each list “tells a story.”

Sullivan’s list, for example, also included petting a tiger or a bear, something she got to experience the same weekend as she stayed at Ruether’s cabin. It just so happened that a daughter of a friend of Ruether’s worked at the Duluth Zoo. She heard of Sullivan’s list and made it happen. A TV station was at the zoo working on another story and when they heard of Sullivan’s request and the Bucket List organization, they did a news story.

Several stories have appeared in newspapers and on television about the movement. Ruether said that publicity is needed to get the word out about the group’s wanting requests.

“Get us your lists,” Ruether said. “If we can take someone’s mind off of having cancer for a day or part of a day, it’s all been worth it.” list. So he called the reporter who wrote the story and offered his cabin for her use. The reporter called the woman Michalene Sullivan of Hillman, and told her of Ruether’s offer.

Sullivan was dumbfounded. Who would do such a thing? She called Ruether and chatted and then, one weekend this past August, she was spending a peaceful weekend at Ruether’s cabin.

Then Ruether got another idea. If he could help one person feel better for at least a little while as they went through something like cancer, what more could be done for others.

Before you knew it, a group of his friends, acquaintances and people he didn’t even know, had joined forces. A non-profit group called My Bucket List was created.

Today My Bucket List has a “Bucket Brigade” of more than 300 people. The group doesn’t solicit money or funds, its main focus is to use a network of resources and volunteers to fulfill Bucket List wishes.

“It’s been amazing,” Ruether said last week as he sat in the Pearl Lake Lodge talking about what has transpired with the movement in less than six months.

“So many people want to join the Bucket Brigade. The response has been overwhelming.”

Once the group learns of someone who has a Bucket List wish, folks in the Bucket Brigade who are able to help, step forward. Ruether said the group has fulfilled about a dozen requests so far, whether it is taking someone for an airplane ride to having a photographer take family pictures.

“Our goal is to do whatever we can do,” he said.

Ruether said that his desire to help others may have been spawned by the passing of his father this past May.

Or, it may have been all the negative news that is reported today. By seeing the generosity of the volunteers who have joined the Bucket Brigade, Ruether said his faith in people has been restored.

“America is still strong. I think that’s way cool. This network of people just melts you.”

Ruether said complete strangers have stepped forward to help.

“People I’ve never met want to help. We have people chomping at the bit to help. I’ve had people in other states asking if they can help or if there is a chapter in their state they can join.”

So far, the group has only the local chapter, but in the future – who knows, Ruether said.

Ruether said he wants to hear from folks who have a Bucket List request. About 900 post cards have been printed and distributed outlining the group’s mission – “to use our network of resources and volunteers to fulfill simple Bucket List wishes for terminally ill adults in Minnesota.”

Anyone who would like to join the Bucket Brigade can e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . If you would like to nominate the Bucket List of a loved one, you can visit the website at www.mybucket
listmn.org
.

Ruether said each list “tells a story.”

Sullivan’s list, for example, also included petting a tiger or a bear, something she got to experience the same weekend as she stayed at Ruether’s cabin. It just so happened that a daughter of a friend of Ruether’s worked at the Duluth Zoo. She heard of Sullivan’s list and made it happen. A TV station was at the zoo working on another story and when they heard of Sullivan’s request and the Bucket List organization, they did a news story.

Several stories have appeared in newspapers and on television about the movement. Ruether said that publicity is needed to get the word out about the group’s wanting requests.

“Get us your lists,” Ruether said. “If we can take someone’s mind off of having cancer for a day or part of a day, it’s all been worth it.”