After Todd Nagel was diagnosed with advanced melanoma in 2001, “he fought for five years,” recalls his wife, Linda. “We traveled the country so Todd could try different treatments and take part in clinical trials. I believe — as did Todd — that these efforts extended his life.” Nevertheless, Todd lost his battle in September 2006. He was only 42, and their son, Ryan, was just 3 years old.
After his death, Linda decided to channel her grief into helping others. “I wanted to have a day to celebrate him, for people who knew him and even for those who didn’t,” she says. She also wanted to set a good example for their son and others. “Though I couldn't bring Todd back, I could do something to raise awareness about melanoma, so other people wouldn’t have to go through what we did.”
Her husband had loved golf. In fact, the Nagels lived on a golf course in the Minneapolis suburb of Shakopee, Minnesota. A golfing event seemed like the perfect way to honor Todd’s memory and raise funds for melanoma research. After speaking with Todd’s oncologist, Linda chose The Skin Cancer Foundation to be the recipient of her fundraising efforts.
The first Todd Nagel Open took place in September 2007. Today, about 100 people participate in the annual event, and the golf outing, lunch and silent auction have raised more than $125,000 to help education efforts and melanoma research. In 2011, Linda awarded the first-ever Todd Nagel Memorial Award, a $10,000 melanoma research grant. With each year, her commitment to the cause has grown. In 2016, she presented researchers with a $25,000 grant.
While Linda’s fundraising efforts have done so much for raising awareness of melanoma, organizing the event itself has also been enormously gratifying. “Part of my healing process was in the planning,” she says. “I’m so happy that people continue to support this event and carry on Todd’s legacy.”