A Dubuque woman has taken a charge from a TV talk show host and turned it into thousands of dollars in gifts to a project to benefit cancer patients. Sharon Kopp was one of some 300 audience members at the Oprah show in Chicago when show host Oprah Winfrey gave them each a one-thousand dollar debit card and a camera. Kopp says Oprah’s charge was to use the money to help someone.

Oprah suggested standing at the gas station and give away free gas, or give one-thousand people one dollar. Kopp says she wanted to help as many people as she could. Kopp says after several days of thinking about it, as she knew she wanted to do something with cancer. Kopp hooked up with Nancy Van Milligan of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, who suggested she raise money for the Hope Lodge. The Lodge is planned for Iowa City and will be a place where patients undergoing cancer treatment can stay for free.

Kopp says it seemed like the perfect idea as Kopp had helped her dad and three brothers-in-law fight cancer. Kopp says she saw first-hand the out-of-pocket expenses people can incur as the treatment can stretch for two or three weeks. Things got rolling, and by the time Kopp had to send her camera back in to Oprah — she had raised over several thousand dollars. Kopp says when she had to take a picture handing over the check for the money she raised, she had 50-thousand dollars. Kopp says they got a match of the money and then another donation to make it 109-thousand dollars.

Kopp will return to the Oprah show on November 21st, but isn’t sure exactly what that will entail. Kopp says she has not idea what will happen on the show, as they had no idea what would happen on that first show. Kopp says you can still make donation to help the Hope Lodge at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, or by calling the American Cancer Society.