“Switching the airwaves” for Craig | Hometown focus


Craig Holgate hosts the eighth annual Rock for an Angel Flannelspiel in 2019. Photos submitted.

HIBBING — On February 12, Tina Holgate will wear no less than three pairs of shoes.

She will be wearing her dress shoes at the Hibbing Curling Club. She will be wearing her curling shoes on the ice. She will then don a new pair as co-host of the day’s program.

“Well, I’m not a radio host, so I’ll have big shoes to fill here,” Holgate said. “But I’m going to do my best to make Craig proud.”

Craig Holgate, beloved radio personality for more than 30 years, succumbed to cancer on September 3, 2021, at the age of 57. He was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015. It spread to his lungs and brain.

Throughout his battle, Craig hosted his WTBX Morning Show as often as his health allowed. “He loved his listeners and they loved him back,” read his obituary.

“Hold that mic closer” is going to go through my head,” Tina, his widow, continued. “I want to continue spreading his word to stay on top of your health and share his motto ‘enjoy every moment.

Craig and Tina Holgate and Cody and Jill Ellis attend Rock for an Angel Flannelspiel in 2019.

Craig and Tina Holgate and Cody and Jill Ellis attend Rock for an Angel Flannelspiel in 2019.

The theme for this year’s Rock for an Angel is “Rocking the Airwaves: A Tribute to Craig Holgate”. Organizers and attendees are thrilled to have the event return after a year off due to COVID, but many will miss that distinctive radio host tone.

“Craig loved his job and had the best voice for it too,” Tina said. “He fell in love with curling immediately in 2015 and joined this event in 2016.”

Tina will co-host the Angel Fund’s 10th Annual Rock for an Angel Funspiel with Jeff Shapiro, a close friend of Craig’s and also a cancer survivor. The two had co-hosted since 2018.

The event is a one-day fundraiser for the Angel Fund, which provides financial assistance to residents of northeastern Minnesota battling cancer for expenses not covered by insurance. The game starts at 8 a.m. Up to 32 teams of four are guaranteed to play three ends of four throughout the day. All levels are welcome. Curling equipment is available.

The cost is $240 per team if you register before January 28, and the price increases to $280 thereafter. Registration includes a reveal, lunch and dinner.

Prizes will be awarded to the winners and best dressed on the theme of “Rocking the Airwaves”. The program will take place around 6 p.m.

Spectators are welcome and encouraged to attend, with raffles and games throughout the day. The music will play in the night.

“I’m participating because Angel Fund deserves my support,” said Tina, who has attended the event since its inception. “It’s a fun event for a worthwhile cause. Any help the Angel Fund provides to cancer patients helps ease the burden. I would like not to speak from experience.

Tina was part of the organizing committee another year and was quick to volunteer her time and effort this year.

“This event always holds a special place in our hearts,” she said. “In a difficult year for me, I just felt that I wanted and had to give back, so I joined the committee. It’s been a privilege.

When she was first informed of the Angel Fund Board’s desire to pay tribute, Tina was overcome with emotion.

“First of all, what an honor. I was smiling through tears when I was told. It’s heartwarming and humbling,” she said. “I am always amazed at the number of lives Craig has touched on his journey. It will be a day of remembrance, sharing and supporting Angel Fund.

Looking back, the Holgates were part of teams that embraced each year’s theme. A few of their team names were Booz’em Buddies, Lumber Jill and the Jacks, and The Warriors (Our Flock Rocks). In 2018, their team Horton Hates Cancer Too won their division.

“It’s always fun to win an event, but winning the Rock for an Angel funspiel in 2018 was awesome,” Tina recalled. “It was like our way of beating cancer.”

The event has always been a highlight for Craig.

“He loved this sport. He loved giving back to Angel Fund. He loved sharing his story and encouraging everyone there to stay on top of their health,” Tina said. “He would never have been able to participate in this event without his routine colonoscopy at the age of 50.”

About two years ago, Craig started woodworking after making a three-foot snowflake for Tina. It kept dabbling, and it became a coping mechanism and a diversion of Cancer. The Holgates sold his designs at local craft shows under the name “Craig’s Crafts” and often shared a portion of the profits with charities of his choice, particularly Angel Fund and Itasca Area Cancer Crisis Fund.

“The work Angel Fund does and the support they provide to cancer patients in the area goes beyond words,” said Tina. “When you are told you have cancer, your life seems to no longer belong to you. You fight until you can’t fight anymore. Angel Fund facilitates this fight.

In 2021, Angel Fund granted 161 requests for a total of $64,400. Since its inception in 2011, the all-volunteer nonprofit organization has granted 1,645 applications and donated more than $525,000. Rock for an Angel is the nonprofit’s most successful annual fundraiser.

“I’m not a curler, but I love being there,” said Kari Kilen, secretary of the Angel Fund. “It’s a great fun atmosphere with people of all ages coming together to support a good cause.”

Kilen co-chairs this year’s events committee.

“We are honored by the generosity of our local residents and businesses, both in what they donate to the fundraiser and in how they come to the event to purchase raffle tickets, etc.”, she added. “I encourage everyone to stop by the Hibbing Curling Club between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. that day to catch some curling matches and try to win some great prizes.”

This year will also mark a kind of reunion. Many are looking forward to seeing each other again and having a simply brilliant day.

“After being absent last year, we will be back in the event,” Tina said, while noting that her team name will be Craig’s Angels. “He will look down on us all that day and he will smile. I hope he has the energy when I have to make this difficult shot.

To register for Rock for an Angel or for more details, visit www.angelfundrange.org/rock-for-an-angel-registrationnow open/. To apply, donate or learn more, visit www.angelfundrange.org/. Event sponsorships and raffle contributions are welcome.

Kelly Grinsteinner lives in Hibbing. She is Director Emeritus of the Board of the Angel Fund and can be contacted at [email protected]


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