Matt Ratzloff completed college courses in December 2016 and was ready to enter the Police Academy to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Gene Fisher who was Owatonna's chief of police. But Matt had a persistent sore throat and medication wasn't helping. Ratzloff was then told it was mono, but still felt it might be something more. He went to the ER and blood tests indicated he had pneumonia. However when he woke up the next morning in the ICU he got the news that changed his life. Ratzloff was told he had acute myeloid leukemia.

Ratzloff shared his story Friday night during the Youth 1st sportsmanship award night during the Steele County Fair. A former youth baseball, hockey and football player, he told the crowd that the ideals he learned in youth sports were his foundation for the battle against cancer.

A 2013 graduate of Owatonna High School, he has worked for years on the grounds crew at the fair. Friday was Matt Ratzloff Day at the Steele County Fair. He told the youth baseball players that three aspects of his sports career were instrumental in his fight against cancer. He stayed positive. His intention is to get through this and get on with his life. He has overcome adversity, including side effects from cancer treatment. And he will never give up and has learned to focus on what he can control.

In mid-June Ratzloff received a bone marrow transplant from a man in Germany. He looks forward to meeting the donor in two years. The recovery time was supposed to be 100 days before he could return home to Owatonna, but he did it in 45 days. Matt still travels to Mayo Clinic weekly for followup, but is trying to get back to a normal life.

A community benefit will be held Saturday, August 26, at the Owatonna VFW at 135 Oakdale St. from 4-8PM. Tickets are $10 for a meal, with a silent auction, raffle and t-shirts also available. The Owatonna High School hockey and baseball families have held other fundraising activities for Matt since the start of the year, using the "Ratzloff Strong" slogan.

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