Meet Your Neighbor: Hot dog lunch fundraiser held to honor LuLu

FREMONT - When Rudy Sprenger and Lonnie Burke wanted to make a donation to Wendt Key Team Realty’s fundraiser for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 2008, they wanted their money to stretch further than it would as a simple bank deposit. The fundraiser was held in honor of the company’s cofounder, Linda “LuLu” Key, who was battling breast cancer.

Sprenger, former owner of the locally popular, but now-closed, Rudy’s Family Restaurant, suggested a hot dog fundraiser.

The Wendt Key Team will once again host Lunch for LuLu on Sept. 29. Shown here are, clockwise from bottom left, Cheryl Wendt, Kelly Albrecht, Emily Guggisberg, Steven Johnson, Marty Kupka, Kelli Overmyer, Jill Swaisgood, Janelle Walk and Diann Hamons.
The Wendt Key Team will once again host Lunch for LuLu on Sept. 29. Shown here are, clockwise from bottom left, Cheryl Wendt, Kelly Albrecht, Emily Guggisberg, Steven Johnson, Marty Kupka, Kelli Overmyer, Jill Swaisgood, Janelle Walk and Diann Hamons.

“Rudy said they wanted to donate $100, but they’d rather find a way to use the money to get more money for the cause,” said Cheryl Wendt, who founded the real estate company with Key.

Lunch for LuLu began with a $100 donation

With that plan, Lunch for LuLu, an annual hot dog fundraiser, was born. The idea was so successful that, along with a Pink Day at the Bay Event, the group raised $103, 558 since it started. That is a lot of hot dogs and a lot of community support.

This year’s Lunch for LuLu will be held on Friday, Sept. 29.

“Linda died in 2011,” Wendt said. “We’re still doing this for her. We started it to help her through her diagnosis. Now, it’s for everyone. Some of us have been diagnosed and some us haven’t been diagnosed, but we’re all survivors.”

Funds going to Race for the Cure, Sandusky County Cancer Care

The money raised at this year’s event will be split between Race for the Cure and the Sandusky County Cancer Care Fund, a program of United Way of Sandusky County.

“Anyone being treated for cancer who lives in Sandusky County can apply for financial assistance from the Cancer Care Fund,” said Jill Simpson, president and CEO of United Way of Sandusky County. “Any money we receive from Lunch for LuLu goes directly toward helping cancer patients here in Sandusky County.”

The Sandusky County Cancer Care Fund assists with many expenses associated with cancer treatments.

“It may pay for medical bills or prescriptions not covered by insurance, or for gas or a wig,” Simpson said. “We get special requests, like if someone is having surgery and a family member needs to stay nearby, we may pay for a hotel stay.”

Lunch for LuLu, a hot dog fundraiser held in honor of Linda Key, will be on Sept. 29.
Lunch for LuLu, a hot dog fundraiser held in honor of Linda Key, will be on Sept. 29.

The Wendt Key Team hosted Pink Day at the Bay at Put-in-Bay for five years prior to COVID.

“We dressed up in pink and asked for money,” Wendt said.

Cancer is a universal trauma, so as people gave money, they also shared stories.

“We were all crying. A lot of people who gave money said, ‘My sister died of cancer,’ or ‘My mom died of cancer,” Wendt said.

This photo of the first fundraiser in honor of Linda Key hangs in the Wendt Key Team Realty office. The group has since raised over $100,000 to fight cancer and aid cancer patients.
This photo of the first fundraiser in honor of Linda Key hangs in the Wendt Key Team Realty office. The group has since raised over $100,000 to fight cancer and aid cancer patients.

Lunch with LuLu is possible thanks to the following sponsors: Rudy & Jan Sprenger, Croghan Colonial Bank, Fremont Federal Credit Union, Fifth Third Bank, First American Title, Park Avenue Title, Perrysburg Title, The Fremont Company, Root's Poultry and Heinz.

Lunch for LuLu will be held Friday, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wendt Key Team Realty, 1403 W. State St. in Fremont. Lunch includes a jumbo hot dog with chili and kraut, chips and water. Cost is by donation. The lunch is a drive-through event, but deliveries can be made with a minimum $100 donation if they are preordered by noon on Sept. 28 by calling Wendt Key at 419-333-8326 or emailing martykupka@wendtkey.com.

Contact correspondent Sheri Trusty at  sheritrusty4@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Fremont News-Messenger: Meet Your Neighbor: Hot dog lunch fundraiser began in 2008