After getting rained out last year, the 19th annual East Otter Tail County Relay for Life went much better this year, according to organizers.
“We are sitting at a little over $88,000 as of this morning!” said event chairperson Lisa Peterson on July 14. “Our goal is $93,000, and I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to reach that!”
This year, 22 teams committed their entire Friday night to walking around the Perham High School track to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. Of those teams, four were new and 18 were returning veterans – all were “Armed with Hope to Finish the Fight,” as part of this year’s theme.
Relay Week started on July 7 with a cancer survivor’s banquet at Wild Oaks. New York Mills School District was honored as the Employer of the Year for its care and concern for employees diagnosed with cancer. Jim Braun was recognized for his years of volunteering with the relay with a Distinguished Service Award.
Stefanie Hurt and Lisa Preuss were also introduced as the relay’s honorary co-chairs.
As the week progressed, both Perham and New York Mills took part in ‘Paint the Town Purple,’ an effort to decorate the community in cancer survivor’s purple to remind everyone of the upcoming relay.
“Both Perham and New York Mills had awesome-looking purple decorations all over,” said Peterson, thanking both communities for their continued support.
The relay itself was held on July 11.
“We are very pleased with everything from Friday night – the weather, the attendance from the public, the number of survivors who came out and much more,” said Peterson. “We had great crews for both setting out luminaries and cleaning them up the next morning.”
During the opening ceremony, a record 85 people who survived their battles with cancer took the first lap around the track with family, friends and community members cheering them on from the sidelines.
In the Luminaria Ceremony, Preuss and Hurt told their stories of cancer and recovery.
“Let your faith be bigger than your fear,” said Preuss.
“God gave it (cancer) to me to make a difference,” said Hurt. She created a non-profit, called W.I.N.K. (Women In Need of Kindness), to help support other women who have found themselves facing cancer.
“Tighten up those laces, put on those flip flops and let’s relay, folks!,” Hurt cheered as she finished speaking.
As the memorial luminaries were lit in the fading light, members of the relay teams continued moving toward a cure for cancer with every step.