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Friday's Relay for Life: 'Celebrating a history of hope'

From Relay for Life committee

East Otter Tail County

The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life celebrates its 15th birthday at the Perham High School track on Friday, July 10. This year's theme is "A History of Hope."

The organizers of the annual Relay have a full program of activities, hoping that the general public will again come and help them celebrate victories in the war against cancer. "We want everyone to come," says Lisa Peterson, event chairperson. "If you've never come before, join us. You won't be disappointed. You'll want to come back next year, too. You don't have to be on a team or be a cancer survivor; you don't have to pay admission or buy anything. Come and have some birthday cake, support our survivors, hear from our honorary co-chairs, witness the ceremonies, join in the activities -just have fun. Join the luminary lighting ceremony and walk the track. Stay around all night if you wish; attend the new Fight Back ceremony. Show your support for our year 'round efforts to battle cancer." There's lots to do at the Relay, starting at 5:30 p.m.

• Silent auction - teams have donated items for this fundraiser

• Haircuts

• Massages

• "Wacky hair"

• Classic car rides

• Campsite activities - food, games, etc.

• Campsite decorating contest

• Birthday cake

• Scavenger hunt (cancer education)

• Concessions - lots to eat!

The items for the silent auction are donated by each of the Relay teams and local businesses and individuals. All proceeds from these activities are used in the war against cancer.

Relay night is organized around the American Cancer Society's theme: CELEBRATE, REMEMBER, FIGHT BACK. Our first ceremony is CELEBRATE. This year we have a special guest, John Carlson, the Executive Vice President for Community Development of the American Cancer Society's Midwest Division. At 7:00, we honor all cancer survivors, introducing them individually for the opening lap led by our 2009 honorary co-chairs, followed by all past honorary co-chairs. Next our Relay for Life teams are introduced - all 30 of them - and they proceed around the track, following the survivors. It's a parade of celebration!

We REMEMBER those who have lost their lives to cancer at 9:00. This luminary lighting ceremony is more serious than celebratory. Our honorary co-chairpersons, Betty Greiff and Sharon Loerzel, share their cancer messages with us. They then lead us around the track, lighting the thousands of luminaries that surround the track - each one honoring a survivor or remembering ones who have lost their lives. The St. Paul's Lutheran Bell Choir plays during this ceremony, adding an atmosphere of reflective solemnity. One by one, each luminary adds its glow to the darkening night. These are the only lights to guide the teams as they walk through the night. For many, these are the most important moments of the Relay.

We FIGHT BACK against cancer, too. Our last and newest ceremony begins at 11:00. We urge you to stay for this - or return to take part in it. Fighting back against cancer is what we do the rest of the year when we're not working on the Relay for Life itself. FIGHT BACK chair, Robianne Schultz, notes, "We do a great job during Relay season - but there are opportunities to fight cancer the rest of the year, too. This year's theme is "I fight back because ...." Health care is a big issue this year, but it provides ways for us to make a difference. You'll get information and ways to 'fight back' at this ceremony. It may be something as simple as committing to getting cancer screening done at a physical or it may be a bigger step, like quitting smoking or losing weight. Perhaps you will contact a legislator to express your views on cancer-related legislation. There's lots of ways you can fight back."

Then the evening ends - right? No, not yet! There's more. So, if you wish, stay all night. There are activities each hour during the night: a cake walk; team lap challenge; crutch and wheelchair races, and more. Join us for an hour or for the night. Help make this a truly "Happy Birthday!"