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Seeing purple: Perham shows support for Relay for Life with purple town decorations

A bear outside Wildlife Minnesota in downtown Perham sports some purple attire. Jason Miller/FOCUS1 / 5
A purple ribbon adorns this bench outside Refreshing Designs in downtown Perham. Jason Miller/FOCUS2 / 5
A tree in City Hall Park in downtown Perham is decorated in purple. Jason Miller/FOCUS3 / 5
Purple can be seen throughout Perham in coordination with this week's Relay for Life event. Jason Miller/FOCUS4 / 5
This metal fence in downtown Perham was decorated in purple for this week's Relay for Life. Jason Miller/FOCUS5 / 5

Purple, purple, purple! The hue has found its way onto park benches, fences, and trees all along the streets of Perham, a beautiful sight to see. But it's more than just a decoration—the painted town is a symbol of support, representing cancer survivors everywhere and foreshadowing one of the biggest annual Perham events: Relay For Life.

The entire week of Relay For Life is a time when businesses and community members alike come together to raise money for a very important cause: cancer research and groundbreaking patient care programs.

This year, the city of Perham has set a goal to raise $110,000 dollars, and it is already well on its way, with $66,418.85 raised as of press time and just three days left to reach the triple digits.

The event week kicked off with the annual Paint the Town Purple fundraiser and will continue Thursday night with the Survivor's Banquet, set to be held at the Perham Lakeside Golf Course at 5:30 p.m.

According to Ron Anderson, one of the event organizers, the dinner is provided to all area cancer survivors free of charge. Following the meal, the American Cancer Society will give three special awards, two for service to the annual relay, which will be awarded to Dee Anderson and Bob Wilkowski this year and the 2017 Employer of the Year Award will be presented to Terry and Diane Hepola of Allegro Marketing.

Following the awards, there will be a message from featured speaker, Janet Karvonen Montgomery, a former star basketball player from New York Mills and presently an associate pastor at a church in the metro area, which is expected to be a "highlight of the evening."

To attend the banquet, the general public should plan to RSVP a couple days in advance in order to allow time for the caterers to plan for crowd size.

On Friday, July 14, the fundraising continues at the Perham High School track with the actual relay, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and continuing until Saturday morning at 6 a.m.

"Each year, the leadership team selects a theme for the Relay," said Anderson. "For our 23rd Relay for Life, they have chosen 'Light up the Night with the Magic of Hope.' "

Relay day

The Relay is free to the public and will include games, concessions and campsite activities, beginning at 5:30 p.m. and lasting through the entire event.

The opening ceremonies will kick off at 7 p.m. with an honoring of cancer survivors and an introduction of the different Relay For Life teams, then culminating in the Survivors' Lap, a time for cancer survivors to walk a lap around the athletic track together, celebrating the victories achieved over cancer.

After dark, at 9:15 p.m., the Luminaria Ceremony will begin, a time to honor people who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to cancer, according to the Relay For Life website.

The closing ceremony will be at 11 p.m., a time to reflect on what the community, along with the American Cancer Society, is doing to end the battle against cancer.

"The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is a life-changing event that give everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease," states the Relay website. "Because cancer never sleeps, relays are overnight events, lasting anywhere from 12 to 24 hours in length."

In Perham, the relay will last 14 hours, and participants will camp out at the Perham High School track following the closing ceremony, taking turns walking or running around the track throughout the night.