Minnesota soldiers return from Iraq
Yellow ribbons will fly along Highway 10 within the next week, as dozens of soldiers from throughout the region from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division -- The "Red Bulls" -- are expected to return to Minnesota over the next...
Yellow ribbons will fly along Highway 10 within the next week, as dozens of soldiers from throughout the region from the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division -- The "Red Bulls" -- are expected to return to Minnesota over the next week.
Dozens of soldiers from the Becker, Otter Tail and Wadena County areas are expected to arrive Sunday.
The 2,600 soldiers with the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team have been deployed 22 months, 16 months of which were in a combat zone.
"Bring out your banners, bring out your American flags, hang your yellow ribbons, and make signs," said Tim Schmitz, Perham, parent of soldier Luke Schmitz, who was wounded a year ago in Iraq. There won't be a stopover on This year offered several new activities. A cake walk, bingo, and a poker lap, where walkers collected a card each lap to try to form a winning hand of poker were some of the activities held on the hour from 1 to 5 a.m.
"Those are new things that are going to encourage people to come here and stay through the night," Peterson said.
Peterson also hopes that the activities will help keep teams awake through the night.
Another new thing this year is recognizing caregivers of cancer patients.
"We thought it would be a nice gesture to recognize them as well this year," said Robianne Schultz, Relay committee member.
Peterson, started the ceremony off by calling up individuals who were testimonies to the event's continuing success. Better treatments and new cures, improved help for cancer patients, programs to promote awareness and early detection, and the personal zeal people were using to fight all encouraged the crowd to continue striving for a cure.
Boostering the message of hope were honorary co-chairs, Reuben and Bernice Anderson and Bill Parks. Bernice shared with crowds how support networks and treatment have improved in the 17 years since she had cancer and kept it a secret from others.
Reuben told the crowd about the treatment that left him very weak before he started the road to recovery. He was so feeble that he could not turn the key in the ignition of his pick-up truck.
"They had to almost kill me in order to save me," he said.
Honorary Co-chair, Bill Parks was a striking example of a fighter, vowing that he would 'beat' his cancer was encouraged by all the work the community had done to assist in the fight.
"It is just another wedge in the big pie of what we're going to do to make this work," Bill Parks told the crowd on Friday evening.
The strong support from the community was praised by a number of participants, including Relay committee members and former honorary co-chairs, Leroy and Ruth Wegscheid.
"We've never been turned down," Ruth said of the community.
Peterson also praised the efforts of the community. Local businesses including Thumper Pond, Zorbaz, Main Street Express, Massages by Janel, and Nails by Jen, also contributed by supplying prizes in the drawing for team members. She was particularly overwhelmed by the amount of volunteers that had shown up to set up luminaries before the event.
"It's really going to be a good one," Peterson declared at the beginning of the evening.
The eleven teams that raised enough funds to receive gold, silver or bronze statuses as well as the other hard working teams that worked towards the $75,000 mark demonstrated this assertion. The School Team raised enough to be a gold team, the Perham Hospital and Home and the Vergas State Bank teams were silver, and the St. Lawrence Team, Trinity Bells, Perham Area Co-op Creamery, the United Community Bank, Farmer State Bank, the Ottertail Otters, Primera and Calvary Lutheran Church teams were seven bronze teams.
However, the real heroes of the evening were the 65 survivors that were there to walk the opening ceremony of the Relay, showing that cancer is not undefeatable and that hope can survive even when storm clouds and disease threaten it.