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Twins MVP dad was strong during difficult time

June 19, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — In most cases of cancer, the focus tends to be on the person battling the disease, and rightfully so. Sometimes, a member of that person’s family deserves recognition too.

Don Wander fits that bill, as he took over the motherly duties usually reserved for his wife, Mary, as she battled multiple myeloma over the last seven years before passing away in January. Suddenly, he was the one writing grocery lists and folding sheets, among other things.

The Twins honored Wander before Sunday’s game against the Padres at Target Field, naming him their “MVP Dad” as a part of Major League Baseball’s “My Dad, My MVP” contest. As a part of MLB’s annual Father’s Day actitivies, one “MVP Dad” per club was selected, with many being cancer survivors.

Wander was recognized on the field during a pregame ceremony and posed for photos with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and former Twins catcher Terry Steinbach.

“You see these guys all the time, but you never ever think you’re going to get to actually be there by them,” Wander said. “That was very exciting.”

Wander, whose daughter, Andrea Kerfeld, entered him in the contest, said he didn’t even know about it until about a week and a half ago when she said he had some papers to sign.

Don and Mary were big Twins fans, and during her battle with cancer, it was one of the things that would allow them to forget about it all as they got lost in the games.

“We were here for Game 163 in 2009,” Wander said. “She had one room upstairs that’s just strictly Twins stuff.”

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