by Dennis Dalman
Twenty-seven walking teams comprised of 302 participants raised a grand total of $106,077 for the American Cancer Society at the annual Relay for Life rally, which took place all night at Sartell Middle School June 5-6.
The weather was very pleasant for the long event with a warm slightly breezy evening followed by a cool but comfortable night. It’s one of many Relay for Life rallies held throughout the United States. (For more about the Sartell event and some of its participants, see related stories in this paper.)
The top fundraising teams were the Marrow Maniacs ($10,819), the Majestic Wings ($7,503) and the Fightin’ Chicks ($4,004).
Teams consisted of cancer survivors, their families, loved ones, supporters and care-givers. Money was also raised via concession-stand sales and raffle sales sponsored by the teams and set up around the walking track at the middle school.
Emceed by cancer survivor and local radio personality Pete Hanson, the event began at 5 p.m. and lasted until 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Some participants brought RV campers, others pitched tents and some had to leave early as they could not spend the entire night.
All of the participants were welcomed by Sartell acting mayor David Peterson.
The all-night Relay for Life, emcee Hanson explained, symbolizes the fear of cancer as the sun sets and day becomes dark. But, as the sun rises, that bright dawning symbolizes hope, the defeat of cancer and the restoration of health and life.
Throughout the night, team members walked, shared stories, laughed and joked, and some took snoozes. At 10 p.m., all the luminaries around the walking track were lit, casting a golden glow along the ground. There were other activities throughout the night that involved team spirit, such as a Spirit Ceremony, a community campfire, a raffle drawing, a fitness challenge, a Super Hero lap and a Birthday lap.
Funds raised via Relay for Life rallies are used by the American Cancer Society for the following programs, free to all cancer patients: research into cancer and a wide variety of assistance programs for patients, such as a 24-hour helpline (via phone and online); free wigs and makeup techniques to counter the effects of chemo and radiation; and Road to Recovery, which offers free rides to and from treatment.