Cancer is a dangerous foe, forever changing the lives of those who are diagnosed with it, and those who love and care for them.

Perham and the surrounding community rallied for survivors and those who lost the fight at the 24th annual East Otter Tail County Relay for Life last Friday in Perham.

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Months of fundraising culminated in the evening of festivities and reflection that's become a summer tradition.

"We're all united in one desire in fighting to end cancer," event emcee Mike Peterson said during the opening ceremony.

Peterson praised the team captains that work for months to make the relay the second most successful event in the nation per capita.

As of Friday night over 20 teams had raised close to the goal of $130,000, but that number is rising as the last of fundraising is counted.

Peterson said much of the focus is on survivors, but vigilance from caregivers is often forgotten. With that, former or current caregivers in the crowd stood up, and were applauded.

Local relay founder Ron Anderson was recognized for his devotion to the relay which initially started with only seven teams.

"It's embarrassing to be recognized for something you love to do," Anderson said.

Relay Chair Lisa Peterson praised the wonderful community support that made the event possible.

"This is the absolute best place to relay," she said.

After dozens of doves were released, honorary co-chairwomen Laurie Bach and Lora Rogers led 75 cancer survivors around the track for the relay's opening lap.

Over 4,000 personalized luminaries lined the track. Each one dedicated to the hope or memory of a loved one.

Many survivors waved at the cheering crowd, while others methodically plodded along, their battle with cancer not yet won.

Kathy Wouters, a cancer survivor of 14 years said attending the relay "is nothing less than a miracle."

"The lord doesn't even want me," Wouters said. "He keeps giving me back."

Survivor Donna Gill said being at the relay is an inspiration.

"The community really supports, even if they're not here," she said.