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Relay for Life birthday gifts: Josie Winkels, hope and help

By Ron Anderson

East Otter Tail

Relay for Life

Don't let the long winter or lack of spring weather with no hopeful sign of summer in sight fool you. Relay for Life comes again Friday, July 10 at the Perham High School track. The weather will be sunny and warm, and this American Cancer Society event will be festive and memorable. Why? It's a birthday - Relay's 15th, so we will have a community-wide birthday party.

Come and join us! But first, think about organizing a team for the Relay or joining an already organized one. "We usually have about 30 teams," says Lisa Peterson, event chairperson. "But we really want more this year. Bring back your old team from years ago or form a new one; it can be with friends, co-workers, or church members. Just get together for a celebration and be part of the fight against cancer. Call me at 346-4747 for information or materials. It'll be fun for you and you'll feel good about contributing."

Hope Lodge is example of where Relay for Life money goes

The most often asked question about the Relay is "Where does the money go?" We chose two of the ways our local Cancer Society helps cancer victims. The first of these relates to the experience that Josie Winkels had at Hope Lodge in Minneapolis. Hope Lodge provides free housing, close to treatment centers, and emotional support to anyone who is fighting cancer. Josie needed six weeks of treatment at University Hospitals.

She and her caregiver husband, Roger, were provided a comfortable, welcoming place to stay and a place to prepare food.

Josie reflects, "This was a beautiful place, a peaceful place, a warm place. It was not depressing. There was a large fireplace and common room where we could go to talk and share our treatment experience with others who are battling cancer. For example, we had potlucks and students from the University would come by with food sometimes and talk. It was a community."

This is a new facility and has not been widely used by people from our area. It needs to be used. There is a similar, more established Hope Lodge in Rochester, too. Remember, there is no charge. It is easy to arrange for room at either Lodge. First, one must be a cancer patient under treatment.

Second, one needs to call his/her oncologist's office; the oncologist makes the reservation for the Lodge. The time one can stay varies with the length of treatment - it could be a few days, or, like with Josie's therapy, six weeks.

Third, call early. The Minneapolis Lodge may have no waiting list, but don't depend on it. The busy Rochester Lodge often needs the reservation at least two weeks in advance.

Finally, where was Josie when she was interviewed for this article? "I am in the car with Roger and our dog. We are on our way to the Hope Lodge. We are having a reunion with our friends from treatment; this is a special place and these are wonderful people." If one is unlucky enough to have cancer, this is a good place to be. Did we mention that this is a free service provided by your Cancer Society?

"Road to Recovery" a Cancer Society service

A second service provided locally by your A.C.S. is "Road to Recovery." It has been a fixture here for more than a decade, but is seldom in the news. This, too, is a free service. The Cancer Society has trained a cadre of drivers who will take cancer patients to and from treatment. They are prepared to provide transportation five days a week, if necessary. How does one find out more or request this service? Call Judy Kunza at 346-4714. "We know cancer treatment can be very exhausting," comments Judy, "and driving can be hard, even dangerous. We want to help you." These dedicated volunteers should be recognized: Ron Ringsven, Les Gunderson, Larry Hunt, Larry Nelson, Bruce and Ann Ostem, Julie Baumgart, Ron Anderson, Bob Bailey, Elaine Beyer and Bill Bauck.

"There are lots of ways all of us can help make our Relay a huge success again," concludes Lisa. "Support team fundraisers - bake sales, dinners and breakfast, garage sales - and many more activities. One can purchase luminaries from team members to honor or memorialize those close to you who have fought cancer."

Cookbook published for 2009 Relay for Life

A new feature for 2009, "Buy an East Otter Tail Relay for Life Cookbook." There are 450 'tried and true' recipes from Relay team members for their 15th anniversary. All proceeds go to the 'war against cancer' - a war we intend to win.