Relay For Life brings hope to manyIt was a picture-perfect evening under the waning moon of August as last Friday’s Carlton County Relay For Life got under way at the Fond du Lac Tribal Center. The 48 cancer survivors who took the honorary first lap felt a resurgence of hope.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
It was a picture-perfect evening under the waning moon of August as last Friday’s Carlton County Relay For Life got under way at the Fond du Lac Tribal Center. The 48 cancer survivors who took the honorary first lap felt a resurgence of hope.
“To us, it means God has given us our lives back,” said Nancy Maunu of Cloquet, a cancer survivor who has taken part in the Relay event along with her husband, Phil, also a cancer survivor, ever since the event began. “It’s unreal when you find you have cancer and you find you’re able to take care of it.”
Some 600 flickering luminaries along the walking track honored or memorialized loved ones past and present at Friday night’s Relay.
“It was really gratifying to see all the people there, some of them still going through treatment, and remember those who have passed on,” said Relay participant Doug Niesen of Cloquet. Niesen has taken part in the event ever since he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2001. Between him and his wife, Jan, who also participated, they have had cancer five times and consider themselves blessed to be among those who are “still going.”
The survivors at Friday’s event collectively represented 643 years of survivorship. They were treated to a Survivors Dinner prior to the walk, compliments of Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Super One, along with their families.
“The people who put it on did an excellent job,” said Niesen.
In all, some 100 participated in this year’s Relay in some capacity and helped raise a preliminary total of $12,400.
“The money raised will go to a good cause,” said Jean Cyronek, community relations director for the Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society (ACS).
She said over the past year, 11 people stayed at a Hope Lodge thanks to funding raised by Relay For Life; eight attended a “Look Good Feel Better” group and one did the online self-help; four participated in “Reach to Recovery,” a breast cancer survivor reaching out to a newly diagnosed patient; five participated in “Road to Recovery,” which provides patients rides to treatment; six received transportation gas cards; and five received wigs.
“Let’s get the word out that we provide these services and can be of help to many more families!” Cyronek urged.
“It’s a great thing and it helps so many people,” agreed Maunu.
The ACS is already looking ahead toward next year’s Carlton County Relay For Life with an eye toward signing on more volunteers to plan the 2013 Relay. A date of July 19, 2013, has tentatively been set for the event.