One step closer to the cure

The 19th annual Relay for Life to be held this Friday
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
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The Stahl sisters, Marilyn and Rita, provide free fry bread for Relay participants, and have for years.

News-Argus file photo

“I’ve been walking in the relay since 2004. I’ve only missed one year,” said Alice Neal, active Relay for Life participant, who plans to walk again this weekend.

Organizers for the annual Relay For Life are preparing to light up the night, fight cancer, celebrate survivors and honor all those whose life has been touched by cancer. 

This year’s event begins at dusk, Friday, July 12 at the Fergus County Fairgrounds and will last to dawn on Saturday. 

Lana Papp, one of the many organizers, said, “We’ve got 14 teams already registered. On average a team consists of six to 10 walkers. The hospital has a huge team this year of 80 to 100 walkers. We are hoping for at least 200 participants this year.” 

Registration for the relay is set for 5 p.m. this Friday, with several activities beginning at 5:30 p.m. 

“The auction and live music begin at 5:30 p.m. Also at 5:30, participants can enjoy a community picnic and a kid’s corner featuring a bouncy house,” said Papp.

 For cancer survivors and their caregivers, an indoor dinner catered by Brooks Market will be provided. 

“We are looking to serve 80 to 90 survivors and their families,” Papp added.

On the fundraising efforts, Papp said, “We are shooting to raise $30,000 and we are about half way there now.”

She added, “We’re hoping a lot of people purchase luminarias or raffle tickets to win some fantastic donated prizes.” 

Last  year over 400 luminarias (paper bags filled with sand and candles) illuminated the path for walkers. “In the past we’ve had close to 900 [luminarias]. Our goal this year is to have at least 500 [luminarias] bags to line the track to celebrate, remember and fight back,” said Chris Cooler, Relay organizer.

“Whenever someone purchases a luminaria, they are donating funds to help support the advocacy efforts, medical research, programs and services provided by the American Cancer Society,” she added.

Luminarias can be purchased up to 7 p.m. the evening of the event, or in advance at the Fergus Federal Credit Union.

“All bags must be purchased, decorated and turned in to ensure their placement on the track,” said Cooler.

“We send all funds raised to the American Cancer Society. Funds are allocated to research and to provide travel and lodging expenses for cancer patients and their families,” said Papp.

But all that happens after the night-long trek. What drives those who walk? 

Neal said, “I walk in honor of my family members and friends who have had cancer. It helps me to remember those I’ve lost to cancer.”  

It was no accident back in 2004 when Neal was approached by the Fergus County Federal Union to be a part of their team, as she was already active in the fight against cancer.

“Funds for cancer survivors can help pay for gas or even a wig,” said Neal, who, beyond the Relay, contributes to the American Cancer Society by cutting her hair. 

“I did donate my hair, about three years ago. I’m growing it out again. When it gets to my waist I cut it off,” said Neal.

The picnic, the dinner, the music, and the bouncy house are free to all participants. 

“We provide it all. It is our ‘thank you’ to the community for supporting us all these years,” said Cooler.



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