By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Delano’s sixth annual Relay for Life isn’t until this summer, but community members are already preparing to make the event a success, with an open house Sunday, Jan. 17.
The open house will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at Light of Christ Lutheran Church, located at 3976 County Line Road Southeast in Delano.
“It is open to anyone interested in forming a team, being a volunteer at the event or on the committee, or just to get information about the American Cancer Society (ACS) and its programs,” committee member Ann Hayes noted.
In the past five years, Delano’s Relay for Life has raised nearly $500,000, which has made a lasting impact in the lives of Wright County cancer patients and their families.
Last year, $98,027 was raised in Delano. The goal for this year is $105,000.
“We already have 32 teams signed up for the event,” Hayes said. According to the American Cancer Society web site Delano’s relay will take place at the city park starting Friday, July 30.
The Relay for Life began in 1985, and has grown to an annual event in 5,000 communities worldwide. It unites more than 3.5 million participants in the US and 19 other countries.
At the Relay, teams of people camp out and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative participating at all times.
Relays are overnight events, up to 24 hours in length, because “cancer never sleeps,” the ACS web site stated.
“One of the things I really enjoy is seeing the kids get involved,” Hayes said. “I love their creative ideas and enthusiasm; they have no problem staying up all night and have most of the energy around 3 a.m. We would love to see even more get involved.”
This year’s Relay theme is “more birthdays,” according to the ACS press release, with the idea that “a world with less cancer is a world with more birthdays.”
“This year, I want ‘Happy Birthday’ to be a victory song,” noted Lynn Bartels, tri-chair for Relay for Life. “A year with a birthday is indeed a celebration, especially for those who have faced cancer. Every year that we can continue to light candles means we’re doing something right with Relay For Life.”
In Wright County alone, of the 378 people diagnosed with cancer in 2009, the ACS was able to serve 124 with free or low-cost programs and services. In addition to these 124 Wright County residents, countless others were affected by ACS’s efforts, including those using treatments such as Gleevec and Tamoxifen, both discovered through ACS-funded research.
People who have taken preventative measures for fighting cancer in 2009 also benefited from ACS’s dollars through Pap smears, mammography, and colonoscopies, all stemming from American Cancer Society guidelines and research.
“For patients served by the ACS, we can’t assign a monetary amount to what those patients received, simply because so much of it is emotional support,” noted Brea Atkinson, community relations for the Midwest Division of the ACS.
The money from the Relay for Life benefits cancer patients in numerous ways, including research, advocacy, education, and service.
In 2009, there were 12 “Look Good. . . Feel Better” sessions in Wright County, offering cancer patients makeup, hair, and skin care counseling. Patients also received gift items such as prostheses and head wraps.
Rides to and from treatment, guidance in financial assistance, and support groups were also offered.
Patients in Wright County were also able to stay in ACS’s Hope Lodges, which provide temporary housing for cancer patients seeking treatment.
“As always, we couldn’t do this without the support of the community, and we know this will be another great year for Delano’s families and friends to show our support,” noted Atkinson. “It is always great to see the community come together for a cause that is near and dear to a lot of us.”
How to get involved
Volunteers are encouraged to contact the committee with any questions by calling Hayes at (763) 972-6392 or visiting www.relayforlife.org/delanomn.
For more information about cancer, call toll-free at 800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.