SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, from 4 – 9:00 p.m. CT, nurses, medical workers, support staff and doctors will have a free drink waiting for them at Glacial Lakes Distillery & Brewhouse, courtesy of a group started by a man who nearly lost a battle with cancer.

That group is Sioux Falls Nurses, and the man is local realtor Andy Kontz, who will be purchasing the first drink from a selection of three pre-determined cocktails.

Kontz told us a bit about why he started the Sioux Falls Nurses group.

“About 10-years-ago out of the blue I was diagnosed with leukemia,” Kontz said, recalling that he was hospitalized for roughly 100 days. “I came really close to dying and at the last second, they found my one and only bone marrow donor in a little village in Germany.”

During this time, Kontz got an in-depth look at the daily lives of the nurses and support staff at the hospital. He wanted to give back.

“Initially I just invited all the nurses to one of the coffee shops in town, and if anyone shows up, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee and a bagel,” Kontz remembered. “I was hoping maybe 20 people would show up and we had roughly 100 at the first event.”

Predicting the numbers for these events is not easy, but Kontz says he’s expecting around 150 for Tuesday’s get together, though he said he could see that number more than doubling.

Sioux Falls Nurses asks everyone planning to attend to register ahead of time so they have an idea of how many will be coming.

Those who do attend will sign-in and receive a ticket for their drink, redeemable at the bar. Kontz says there will also be giveaways of gifts such as golf packages, a hotel stay, wine and more, as well as music.

Stephanie McKenna is the General Manager at Glacial Lakes. She said when Kontz and his wife pitched the idea of an event at the business, she saw it as a great opportunity to give back to the community.

“We’re a small business, so we like to support Sioux Falls,” McKenna said. “We have three bartenders right now that are either nurses or nurse-support, so that also was very intriguing to me.”

We asked McKenna about what goes into hosting an event of this size.

“This worked out great because our patio will be open,” McKenna said. “Typically when I do a drink for a larger group of people, I like to batch them, meaning I’ll make them ahead of time so we can just pour the drink.”

McKenna says they’ve done a lot of research into what works for a batch drink, and they’ve come up with a few things. “Typically we stick with our clearer spirits like our vodka or rum, which is what we’re doing tomorrow,” she said.

The event will also provide a chance for attendees to get a look at the newest menus.

The drinks on the menu for Tuesday include the Pineapple Ablation, a spicy jalapeno vodka concoction; the Hematoma, a drink made from rum with a variety of red syrups; and finally, the Code Blue, which is blue.

“We’re excited to give back,” McKenna concluded.