A source of strength
The Survivor Lap at the Pierce County Relay For Life one June 4 illustrated how cancer affects all ages.
Among the cancer survivors making their way around Rugby’s Johnsen Field track was 99-year-old Kermit Blessum and one-year-old Aspen Heisler.
“That was the most memorable moment for me…that survivor lap,’ said Cindy Thompson, relay coordinator. “To see that difference in age shows how cancer affects everyone.”
Indeed, cancer can strike anyone, but the illiness also unites people, and this year’s relay did just that.
The seventh annual event again brought the community together to celebrate those cancer survivors; give encouragement to those who are battling the illness; and remembering those who succumbed to it.
It can be an emotional event.
The relay featured 15 teams and raised just over $43,500 to the American Cancer Society for cancer research. Since 2004, just under $280,000 has been raised locally.
“I was very pleased with the amount raised,’ said Thompson. “Of course, no matter what the amount it’s going to a good cause.”
One of the highlights of the relay was the appearance of Gov. John Hoeven during the opening ceremony.
“He gave a very nice opening speech and talked about how cancer affects us all,’ Thompson said.
That was followed by the survivor lap and introduction of teams. This year’s honorary survivor was Rugby’s Paula Kraft.
The luminaries – some 1,500 – lined the inside and outside of the track and were lit shortly after sunset. “It’s always a nice part of the event,’ she said.
The evening featured games for kids and other entertainment to charge up the participants throughout the relay. It ended with a breakfast early June 5.
Once again weather conditions were good, making for a pleasant evening. “It rained on Thursday (June 3) and I was worried, but it stayed dry,’ Cindy said. “It was a little windy, but that’s better than rain.”
In addition to the participants, the event would not be a success without the volunteers who assisted, including the relay com
mittee. Also, the businesses and individuals who donated.
“The support is just tremendous,’ said Thompson, who will pass the coordinator reins to Nicole Schneibel. “The committee did a great job in planning and running this event.”
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