In a few moments, a nurse will slide a 2-centimeter needle into Boyd Huppert's stomach and keep it there for over 4 minutes. Huppert can't wait.

Ever since the Twin Cities' most acclaimed TV reporter was diagnosed last September with multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer, he's been getting the weekly jab as part of chemotherapy. The treatment helps him prepare for a planned mid-March bone-marrow operation and provides a jolt of energy.

"In about six hours, I'll be a completely different guy," says the KARE 11 veteran, looking like he just got off a 57-hour shift as he waited his turn at Edina's M Health Fairview Cancer Center. "It'll be the opposite of fatigue for the next two days. I won't be able to sleep. And then, I'll hit the wall and roll up into a ball on the couch. It's like clockwork."

When nurse Sara Taylor makes the injection, Huppert winces. After just a few seconds, he starts peppering her with questions: How was your Christmas? How long have you been doing fondue with meat? What's your favorite band?

The barrage works as a distraction from the pain. But it's also in his nature. Huppert's curious mind, and knack for storytelling, has made him one of the most celebrated news personalities in the country with 137 regional Emmys.

Colleague Rena Sarigianopoulos remembers the time about a decade ago when the two of them attended the Edward R. Murrow Awards, broadcast journalism's version of the Oscars. Brian Williams, then NBC's network news anchor, approached them.

"I don't know why they just don't call these things the Boyd Huppert Awards," Williams said.

The vast majority of Huppert's 21 national Murrow Awards are for his weekly segment, "Land of 10,000 Stories," which celebrates the spirit and resilience of everyday Midwesterners: The Truman teenager who saved his town's only grocery store. The school janitor who memorized every student's name. The Little Falls resident determined to build the world's largest ice carousel. The St. Paul firefighter reuniting with the child he rescued from a burning building 25 years ago.

They are often portraits in courage, the kind Huppert must now muster up himself as he fights for his life.

Hardworking background

"Boyd is a farm boy at heart who doesn't know any approach other than getting up when the sun comes up and going to work," says KARE anchor Randy Shaver, who has survived his own bout with cancer. "That's the mental toughness you need when you go through treatment. Underneath that nice-guy persona, there's a steely resolve."

Huppert grew up in River Falls, Wis., which explains why he still roots for the Green Bay Packers. His father ran a 200-acre dairy farm, where Huppert and his four siblings learned that baling hay and milking cows were just as important as finishing homework. He even endured recordings of polka music in the stable.

"Dad insisted it made the cows' milk better," Huppert says.

That background helped form the reporter's work ethic — and got him an internship at KSTP-TV in 1982, beating out nearly 200 other applicants.

"Bob Jordan, who was the news director at the time, said, 'Do you know why I picked you? Because you grew up on a farm,' " says Huppert, who initially graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls thinking he would go into radio. "That was my ticket in."

Huppert is chatting from the Edina house where he and his wife, Sheri, raised two sons. It's the day after a chemo session, so he's full of pep, like he just chugged a pitcher of Red Bull. For the record, Huppert has never actually had a Red Bull, done hard drugs or smoked a cigarette. He loves the smell of coffee, but can't get past the first few sips.

Except for occasional walks around the neighborhood, he's pretty much stayed inside, protecting himself from the COVID virus that could ravage his vulnerable body. It's not a bad place to be cooped up. He's never had cable, but subscribes to three streaming services. Countless shelves are crammed with a wide assortment of books — "The Bigger Book of John Deere," "The Trail of Tears," "Orange is the New Black" — indicating both his eclectic tastes and the fact that his wife is a librarian.

There are indications that he worships both Jesus Christ and Bruce Springsteen.

Clues that he's ailing are subtle. Sixteen bottles of medicine line a kitchen counter. Emergency phone numbers are magnetized to the refrigerator. A cardboard box filled with well wishes from colleagues and competitors sits next to the dining-room table.

Neighbors are eager to lend a hand.

"We haven't had to make a meal in two months," says Huppert, sipping one of the eight glasses of water he's supposed to drink each day. "I have to get up at 6:30 in the morning to plow my own driveway otherwise someone else will do it."

The Hupperts, who were high school sweethearts, have lived in this house since he moved to the Twin Cities in 1996. Before that, there were stints in Wausau, Omaha and Milwaukee.

Five times, he applied to KARE. Five times he was rejected. Management finally relented.

"The line on him at the time was that he was kind of boring, not a very excitable guy," says Tom Lindner, the news director back then. "But all you had to do was look at one of his stories and know that this guy did something different."

For the first decade, Huppert worked the night shift as a general-assignment reporter.

Whenever he could, he persuaded his bosses to allow him to work on longer feature stories. By 2004, "Land of 10,000 Stories" had become a weekly staple.

The overwhelming favorite story, the one people still mention to Huppert when he's at the grocery store, is "Emmett & Erling," which tracked the relationship between an inquisitive child and the World War II veteran who lived next door.

All four chapters aired on NBC News.

'KARE's true north'

Huppert used to have aspirations to be a network correspondent. He had interviews for two jobs with CBS.

"One wasn't right for me," he says. "For the other one, I wasn't right for them."

He has no regrets staying put.

"When you get to the network level, the producers end up doing a lot of writing and he wasn't ready to give that up," Sheri Huppert says. "That's what he really loves. He's never been really comfortable being on TV. He anchored at the first market he was in. He hated it."

By remaining in Minnesota, he's become one of our most beloved media personalities, especially among his peers.

"You go to these journalism conferences, he's treated like a rock star," says reporter Heidi Wigdahl, who joined the station in 2015. "People are always waiting in line to meet him."

For his 60th birthday in January, Sarigianopoulos organized a surprise party in which about 40 KARE employees gathered in their friend's driveway with chocolate cake and balloons.

"We can't even get this many people together for a staff meeting," anchor Chris Hrapsky said as Huppert greeted his colleagues from a safe distance.

Jana Shortal, who was on parental leave, took a 30-minute break from tending to her newborn to join the celebration.

"Boyd throws all the work parties for the staff, not just the big shots," says Shortal, who fondly remembers Huppert taking her out for beers after her job interview in 2003. "He's KARE's true north. No one else comes close."

But don't think Huppert got all those awards by being the station's cruise director.

"He was and is one of the hardest working people I know," says current news director Stacey Nogy. "That guy never takes shortcuts. And he runs his photographers ragged."

Chad Nelson, who has shot many "10,000 Stories," confirms that his friend can be a tough taskmaster. But it's made him a better journalist.

"Boyd isn't just a reporter and a writer. He's a movie director. He sees the whole thing," says Nelson, who is the station's photo director. "He can be pushy, but I appreciate that. It's all about telling a great story."

In addition to being in demand at conventions and workshops, Huppert conducts Zoom classes for young reporters from roughly 50 stations operated by Tegna, the corporation that owns KARE. He offers feedback on stories, as well as tips on how to effectively use rhyme and alliteration in writing. It's like a magician revealing the secret to all his tricks.

When he got his diagnosis, Tegna gave him the option of taking a break. Huppert forged ahead.

It's a distraction. It's also in his nature.

He wrapped up his winter session from his home office, jam-packed with plaques and family photos, with a video of his all-time favorite piece from Charles Kuralt. As he wished his class well, one of the students choked up.

"It's the end!" she said.

Huppert flashed his boyish grin.

"It's only the beginning."