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July 7 Survivor's Banquet begins Relay for Life week

The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event begins with its annual Survivor's Banquet on Monday, July 7. All cancer survivors - anyone having had cancer or now being treated for cancer - are invited to the celebration for a free dinner, awards, entertainment and inspiring speaker, Nancy Davis Wojnarski. Attendees will help the Cancer Society honor the Employers of the Year. This is also a time to recognize caregivers who are so necessary to a cancer patient's treatment and recovery. They will also meet the Honorary Co-chairs, Lorly Schik and Ken Rimpila. The organizers also invite the public to attend, too; for them, the only cost for the evening is $10, the price of the meal. The dinner is once again at Mulligan's Restaurant. The social hour begins at 5:30, with dinner to follow.

The Relay for Life theme is Celebrate! Remember! Fight Back! "The dinner kicks off the 'Celebrate' part of Relay Week," explains Ruth Wegscheid, a survivor committee member. "Celebrate the victories over cancer by Honorary Co-chairs and all those present who have survived." LeRoy Wegscheid adds, "We won't forget the caregivers, either. They are so important and cannot be overlooked. We celebrate all that they do, too."

In addition, the Cancer Society will recognize two employers who stepped forward to make life easier for employees whose lives were changed by a cancer diagnosis. These caring employers are Bongards' Creameries and the Perham Memorial Hospital and Home. In her letter to the Survivors' Committee, Janelle Salo explains how her employer helped her deal with her son's cancer which was diagnosed in the Autumn of 2007. She writes, "I feel blessed to be a part of PMHH as an employee and family member ... They have allowed me to be flexible with time off when my son needed me most."

The other nominee, Bongards' Creameries, was nominated by Tom and Jayne Piehl. Tom writes, "When cancer strikes it can be a devastating situation for both the individual and their family members ... My wife was diagnosed with a very rare sarcoma cancer. Our lives were in a tailspin. The prognosis was poor because there was no cure ... We are grateful to the supportive culture that the Bongards' Creameries has given their employees when serious illness strikes. They consistently gave flexibility in work hours, a supportive work environment and compassionate understanding of one's circumstances."

Celebrating the lives of those who have battled cancer is Nancy Wojnarski. Many local survivors remember her remarkable story from six years ago. "We were inspired by her message of hope as she overcame a very serious childhood cancer," says Judy Kunza, survivor committee member. "When we heard her, she had just graduated from high school."

In the years since, Nancy has completed college, married and is employed as a social worker in Grand Forks, ND. She is 24 years old, happy, healthy and eager to share her story of hope and survival.

The New Year's hopes for 1988 were dashed for four-year-old Nancy Davis' family. The little girl was just diagnosed with a very serious tumor and there was little chance of recovery. The family made many trips from northwest Minnesota to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester where she was treated in an experimental program. It worked. She survived and recovered so well that she was an Olympic torchbearer in 2002 as it crossed the country.

Today, she uses her life-changing experience to motivate others, fund raise for the American Cancer Society and lobby for cancer research. Her story is not of despair but of celebration.

The survivor's committee invites you to join Nancy in celebrating victories over cancer at Mulligan's Restaurant on July 7. They ask only that you reserve a few days in advance to help their planning. To reserve or to get information about the Survivors' Banquet, call Ruth/LeRoy Wegscheid at 367-2571, Judy Kunza at 346-4714 or Robianne Schultz at 346-4773.

They also invite all to come to the Relay for Life on Friday, July 11 and help the East Otter Tail community to Celebrate! Remember! Fight Back! No matter who you are, you can help us save lives by taking up the fight.

Cancer society awards scholarship to New York Mills cancer survivor

The American Cancer Society is pleased to announce Wade Salo of New York Mills as a recipient of a college scholarship for the 2008 academic year. Salo will attend the University of Minnesota - Crookston, majoring in wildlife management. He is among fifty cancer survivors from Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin awarded $1,000 scholarships by the American Cancer Society.

The American Cancer Society's youth scholarship program enables young cancer survivors to demonstrate the academic and social accomplishments they have made in spite of their illness. In addition to overcoming the disease, many cancer survivors and their families must also overcome the financial burden of obtaining a college education - the youth scholarship program gives them an opportunity to pursue a degree by covering some of the cost. Similar to other scholarships, the recipients were chosen based on their commitment to academic or vocational goals, current financial need, leadership ability, and community service.

To be eligible to receive a scholarship from the American Cancer Society, applicants were required to meet the following criteria:

* Diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21 and are currently under the age of 25.

* Be a legal resident of Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota or Wisconsin for at least a year.

* Accepted to attend an accredited two to four year university or vocational/technical school.

* Completed the application process including an essay describing the impact cancer has had on their life and how it will affect their future.

Support of the Minneapolis based, Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America, helps the American Cancer Society provide young cancer survivors with youth scholarships.

Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1.800.ACS.2345 or visit