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Cancer survivors, supporters 'walk the walk' for a cure

A cancer survivor for 25 years, Margaret Winkels takes the "survivor walk" around the Perham track with her granddaughters Brittany and Amanda Winkels.

Nearly 50 area cancer survivors "walked the walk" July 10 at the East Otter Tail "Relay for Life."

They are among the 11 million cancer survivors worldwide. And to some degree, each of those survivors can thank the American Cancer Society for its millions of research dollars.

Area survivors were distinguished by their purple t-shirts, as they were introduced and walked around the Perham High School track--with the crowd applauding.

"Those purple shirts are evidence of the real success of the Cancer Society's work," said Jim Carlson, a Midwest officer with ACS, who traveled to Perham to help celebrate the 15th annual East Otter Tail Relay.

"Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back" was the rallying cry for the 2009 Relay. And this was evident at the Perham event, which included 29 fund-raising teams from across the county--including neighboring communities like New York Mills, Ottertail, Dent and many area townships and rural neighborhoods.

Thanks to the Nobel Prize-winning research of the Society, there is now a 67 percent survival rate for cancer victims, said Carlson.

In Minnesota, Cancer Society activists can take much of the credit for the statewide smoking ban in public places, said Carlson, noting a recent, high-profile success of the Society.

Though not all the revenues and expenses are completely recorded, it appears that the East Otter Tail cancer pledge walk may have broke last year's $90,000 in funds. Not quite the $100,000 goal, but a good turnout considering the economy and tight money, according to local Relay organizers.

Another slogan that embodies the work of the Cancer Society--and the dedication of the Relay for Life events throughout the nation--is "having cancer is hard--finding help shouldn't be." In East Otter Tail County; with its 15-year record of Relays, its active committee, its education programs, and cancer survivor support network; it's never a problem finding help.