The Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund, a designated fund of the Mankato Area Foundation, was established in 2017 by Jonathan and Ginger Zierdt and a guiding coalition of engaged community leaders to build community cancer awareness and support.

Mission: Committed to Community Cancer Awareness and Support

Vision: Changing the Cancer Journey


An evening of sparkle and fun to honor women with cancer and cancer survivors. All proceeds will benefit the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund, which provides valuable cancer education, support services and JZ Caring Boxes to cancer patients in the region.

Buy Your Tickets Now!

Photographic Journeys by Jonathan Zierdt

This exhibit was featured at the Arts Center of Saint Peter in March and April of 2023. Fifty of Zierdt's photos were shown and made available for purchase with proceeds benefiting the JZ Cancer Fund.

See Exhibit



The JZ Caring Box program continues to partner with regional health care facilities to provide useful items and materials to patients at the time of their cancer diagnosis. Volunteers from throughout the community join together to pack the boxes.


The JZ Cancer Fund teamed up with Hockey Day Minnesota Mankato for a “Show Us Your Mullet” contest that raised over $25,000 for our JZ Caring Boxes. Seven local celebrities competed in the month-long contest. Branden Furry, a Minnesota State Maverick Hockey player, was announced as the winner on Hockey Day.


Our new Blingo Bingo event raised over $32,000 for the JZ Cancer Fund. This sold-out evening of glamorous bingo featured eight women callers, each of whom experienced a cancer journey.


growMANkato, which focuses on men’s health issues encouraging regular checkups and screenings, raised over $22,000 in November with events, a beard growing competition and the help of great sponsors. The month culminated with the Mustache Bash on 11.30.22 at the Historic Masonic Hall. 

Daily we receive kind words of thanks from patients, family members and health care professionals expressing gratitude for the JZ Caring Box Program and the other services we provide. Your generous giftS help a cancer patient now and throughout their cancer journey.

“Last week I received a cancer diagnosis and yesterday I received a JZ Caring Box. What a wonderful gift! The words of encouragement in Jonathan’s letter will carry me through many rough spots in the days ahead and the beautiful cookbook will be put to immediate use! Thank you for the comfort you provide.”

-A Recipient of the JZ Caring Box

Caregiver Brochure

If you are helping a family member or friend through cancer treatment, you are a caregiver and play a key role in the patient’s care. As a caregiver, you can also have a significant influence on how the patient copes with their illness and sticks with an often-difficult treatment plan. Download Caregiver Literature

“The closest thing to being cared for is to care for someone else.” - Carson McCullers, author


Cancer continues to be a leading cause of death in Minnesota and across the country. This is personal—it’s about friends, neighbors and family in Minnesota.

One out of two Minnesotans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

Every day, more than three of our friends, neighbors or family members are diagnosed with cancer in south central Minnesota.

Every day, more than one of our friends, neighbors or family members in south central Minnesota die from cancer.

Early detection makes all the difference—survival rates in most cases are significantly higher.


The Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund is committed to community cancer awareness and support. Here are just a few possible examples of how your investment will help change the cancer journey:

JZ Caring Box: The JZ Caring Box program donates specially designed care packages to our medical provider partners for distribution to patients diagnosed with cancer. Each JZ Caring Box contains items to provide support and comfort, and access to information and resources, to cancer patients, their families and caregivers. JZ Caring Box Guide

Information and Resources: The Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund partners and collaborates with multiple organizations that provide important information, resources and services to area cancer patients, their families and caregivers. Learn More | Caregiver Literature

Join JZ!

Let's start building community cancer awareness today.


Donate Today Online           Download Investment Card

Box Love Campaign


The Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund wishes to thank all donors to our Box Love Campaign. Through the generosity of hundreds of individuals,
businesses and foundations the Box Love Campaign has received $925,000 to help support those in our region affected by cancer. We are
especially grateful to our Major Gift donors listed below:

Mayo Clinic Health System

$50,000 - $74,999
Eric and Mindy Else

$25,000 - $49,999
Dan and Angie Bastian
EI Microcircuits
Exclusively Diamonds
Fred and Diane Lutz
Mankato Clinic Foundation
MN River Builders Association
David and Dawn Naples
Bryan and Tami Paulsen
Todd Snell
Chad and Tara Surprenant Family
Tailwind Group
Jonathan and Ginger Zierdt

Greater Mankato Growth Board of Directors
Grow Mankato
David and Darcy Hermel
Paape Companies, Inc.
Dave and Jennifer Pfeffer
Mayo Clinic Health System Community Foundation Mankato
Michael and Donna Rstom
Schmeeckle Foundation
Jeff and Cindy Thom Foundation and All American Foods
Jeff and Katherine Weldon

Scott and Teresa Bergs
Bolton and Menk, Inc.
Consolidated Communications Community Fund
Dennis and Carole Dotson
Lenore Else and Douglas Johnson
Wynn and Ginette Kearney
Dr. Greg and Maura Kutcher
Mayo Clinic Health System Community Foundation Fairmont
Pub 500
Geoff and Rebecca Roise
Dan and Becky Sarff
Mary Jo Surprenant
Universal Sound Productions, LLC
Jay and Lisa Weir
Larry and Kathy Van Tol
Mankato Brewery, LLC
KLN Family Brands

1335 Foundation
Chuck Bailey and JO Guck Bailey
Blethen Berens
Lucy Brown
Consolidated Communications Community Fund of the Mankato Area Foundation
Rob and Rhonda Else
Fredrikson and Byron Foundation
Lupulin Brewing Company
Mankato Independent Originals
Mankato Mortuary
Dennis Murphy
US Bank Employees

In-Kind Donors
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Mankato
KEYC TV – CBS/Fox Mankato
Navitor Inc., a Taylor Corporation Company
Profinium Bank – Fairmont
School Sisters of Notre Dame-Central Pacific Province
The Mankato Free Press
True Facade Pictures
United Prairie Bank - Mankato

In the News

Exhibit to highlight Zierdt’s photographic journeys

Mankato Free Press (February 26, 2023) — Jonathan Zierdt was best-known to the Mankato community for helping found and then direct Greater Mankato Growth, an organization that combined the old models of chamber of commerce, industrial development corporation and tourism bureau under one roof. The end of his life at

Read more

Mustache Bash Ends Men’s Health Month

KEYC (November 30, 2022) — Since 2017, the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund has engaged the community in bringing awareness of men’s health, especially cancer prevention and support for patients and their families. “Being able to support individuals who are going through the cancer journey,” wife of Jonathan Zierdt Ginger Zierdt

Read more

Hockey Day Minnesota and JZ Cancer Fund “Show Us Your Mullet” Contest Comes to a Successful Conclusion, with MSU Hockey Player Brendan Furry on Top

MANKATO, MN (January 21, 2022) — Hockey Day Minnesota and the JZ Cancer Fund are pleased to announce the “Show Us Your Mullet”, a hockey hair growing contest to raise funds for cancer patients has brought in over $25,000. MSU hockey player Brendan Furry was the lead fundraiser bringing in

Read more

Mankato Area Youth and Minnesota State Maverick Hockey Players Pack JZ Caring Boxes

How Jean Ann Hastings Uses Her JZ Caring Box Post Treatments

Erin Pietz - JZ Fully Alive

Lupulin Brewing Collaborates with Fish Sunflowers to Honor Jonathan Zierdt

Share in the Beauty of a Meaningful Sunflower Field

Lupulin Brewing Partners with Mankato Brewery to Release Hero Hazy IPA Soon

Lupulin Brewing's Hero Hazy IPA Benefits JZ Cancer Fund

$5.00 of each item purchased is contributed to the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund.

Photo by Pat Christman/Mankato Free Press

Jonathan Zierdt Cancer Fund

Jonathan's Journey

Jonathan was diagnosed with kidney and prostate cancer in November, 2013. While his kidney cancer went into remission during the fall of 2014, the prostate cancer was a much stronger foe. Since its onset, Jonathan was in constant treatment including surgery, radiation and anti-hormone therapy, followed by additional radiation, chemotherap  and ongoing anti-hormone therapy to treat metastatic prostate cancer beginning in 2016.

In May 2018 a new, relatively sizeable prostate cancer mass was identified in his former prostate bed. Unable to remove surgically or treat with radiation, the palliative option for treatment included new rounds of chemotherapy treatments from June through September 2018, followed by cryogenic surgery. After a five year courageous battle, fighting the cancer with all his might, Jonathan sadly lost that battle on March 27, 2019.

 Throughout his journey Jonathan was bolstered by remaining actively engaged in the community and his work, hoping as he said to “change the face of cancer.” Having received so much support during their cancer journey, Jonathan and Ginger Zierdt established the JZ Cancer Fund in 2017 with a mission and vision to build community cancer awareness and support and to help change the cancer journey. The JZ Cancer Fund remains committed to fulfilling Jonathan’s vision and legacy.

Guiding Coalition

Donor Relations and Programs Director
Maureen Gustafson

Executive Committee
Eric Else
Mindy Else
David Naples
Sarah Person
Ginger Zierdt

Board of Advisors
Laurie Ardner
Brad Ardner
JO Bailey
Kevin Buisman
Dennis Heiden
Pat Hentges
Keith Herwig
Darcy Hermel
Tom Johnson
Marcy Koch
Tom Koch
Fred Lutz
Karen Paape
Dave Pfeffer
Jennifer Pfeffer
Todd Prafke
Marvin Rhodes
Kyle Smith
Todd Snell
Kathy Van Tol
Larry Van Tol
Jeff Weldon
Jay Weir

Caroline Baerg, MD
Mankato Clinic

Laura Bowman
Mayo Clinic Health System

Mike James, MD
Mankato Clinic

Rick Jeddeloh
American Cancer Society

John Kind
Mankato Family YMCA

Greg Kutcher, MD
Mayo Clinic Health System

Mitzi Roberts
Angels for Breast Cancer

Ex Officio Counsel
Nancy Zallek
Special Advisor
Mankato Area Foundation

Silas Danielson
Special Counsel - Legal Counsel

Paul Swenson
Special Counsel
Financial/lLegacy Counsel

Amy Linde
Special Assistance
Marketing & Communications