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Relay For Life to raise money, awareness for cancer patients

Encompassing Perham, New York Mills, Vergas, Dent, Ottertail, Henning, Parkers Prairie and the surrounding areas, the East Otter Tail Relay for Life will be held at the Perham High School track on Friday, July 12.

Activities surrounding the relay will start at 5:30 p.m. and will include a silent auction, concessions, classic car rides, haircuts, massage tables, a scavenger hunt  and “lots of activities at all the team campsites,” said Lisa Peterson, who organized this year’s event.

The opening ceremony for the relay itself will start at 7 p.m., Peterson said, and will be accompanied by the release of a flock of doves.

Afterward, a Survivors Lap will take place and, at 9:15 p.m., a luminary ceremony.

As part of that ceremony, the relay’s honorary co-chairs will speak about their personal experiences with cancer before lighting a large luminary – a bag or similar container with a candle inside – while a series of smaller luminaries are lit, spelling the word “hope” on the track’s bleachers.

The luminary ceremony will be accompanied by music from the St. Paul’s Bell Choir.

“It’s a very peaceful, quiet atmosphere as they play,” Peterson said.

Teams of relay participants will walk around the track until 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. Their constant participation is intended to symbolize how “cancer never sleeps,” according to the Relay for Life webpage.  Organizers ask that every team has at least one member on the track at all times.

Peterson said relay teams will organize activities throughout the night, including wheelchair races, three-legged races, and, at 4 a.m., a cake walk.

At 11 p.m. the “fight back ceremony” will occur, Peterson explained. As part of that ceremony, participants pledge to spread awareness of cancer research, treatment, and prevention.

“That’s kind of a smaller ceremony,” said Peterson. “Fewer people are in attendance, but it’s an important part.”

Peterson expects the event will draw 24 or 25 relay teams, each with 10 to 15 members, with several dozen cancer survivors spread throughout. 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Cancer Society, which sponsors the Relay for Life. Thus, many of the Perham event’s goals this year are tied to “that 100 idea,” she explained.

For instance, organizers hope to raise $100,000 from relay participants and donors this year, and have at least 100 survivors on hand for the event itself.

Events outside of the relay will occur, as well: a cancer survivors’ dinner provided by KLN will be held Monday, July 8 at SteVelly’s at 5:30 p.m. – meals are free for all survivors, $13 for guests.

Peterson said that when people show up for the relay for the first time, they’re always impressed: “There are things for families to do, things for kids to do, and it’s a great way to show support for survivors.”

For more information about the relay, contact Judy Kunza of the survivor’s council, at 346-4717.

Perham to ‘Paint the Town Purple’ for Relay week

The Perham community will be showing its support for the local Relay For Life this Friday through next, July 5-12.

The town will be spattered with purple flags, bows, ribbons and signs, and some businesses will be selling and displaying purple merchandise and special purple decorations.

Everyone in the community is encouraged to wear purple on the day of the Relay, July 12.