Relay for Life: A grand event, 100 times over

More than $103,000 raised during Morrison County’s 21st annual event

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Survivors released doves during the opening ceremony of the Morrison County Relay for Life, July 18. Doves were provided by Shelley Funeral Chapels.

Survivors released doves during the opening ceremony of the Morrison County Relay for Life, July 18. Doves were provided by Shelley Funeral Chapels.

With individuals, families, teams and businesses working together, the Morrison County Relay for Life is truly a community event.

This year, Morrison County raised more than $103,000 for the fight against cancer.

Surrounded by luminaries, honoring those who have survived cancer and remembering those lost to the disease, the community came together to celebrate its success July 18.

Twenty-one teams made up of 224 walkers who had raised funds and decorated luminaries for the event, spent the night walking the track.

But before the walkers started their overnight trek, a survivor dinner was enjoyed at the Little Falls Community Middle School. The Relay for Life Steering Committee, made up of nearly 40 volunteers, was recognized and the crowd heard from cancer survivor Jeanne Kremers.

Kremers, a member of the Bald Eagles Relay team, recounted dealing with cancer in her family with her father and her sister, and her own diagnosis.

Relay-Survivor-walkShe would eventually write the book, “The Chosen One: Facing Cancer with Grace and Ease,” after writing a thank you letter to God she didn’t know just how to send. Her husband suggested the book.

“I choose every day, positive or negative,” said Kremers. “I believe God does not always change your situation, because he is trying to change your heart.”

Although she did not choose cancer, Kremers said she chose how it would affect her life.

“I believe you decide how you are going to live and your feelings catch up with you later,” she said. “I have a peace of mind and freedom in living a life of gratitude.”

Instead of living with anger or fear, she chose to live in faith.

“Faith is the perfect anecdote. It causes the opposite affect (than fear) on my body and brain. It gives abundant life to my body cells and increases my brain power,” she said. “I believe fear can kill me quicker than cancer could have.”

Relay-Flags-and-gardenShe kicked fear out of her life and chose not to let it dominate her life, Kremers said.

Survivors took part in a dove release and top place fundraising individuals and teams were honored as were survivors during the survivor walk, children’s walk and the parade of teams.

In addition to silver and bronze sponsors of the event, the Pierz Knights of Columbus Isidore Council were thanked for being the top corporate donor, having donated more than $21,000 from proceeds generated through its annual buffalo feed.

Top fundraising teams were honored, as were all the members from the top fundraising team, Spirit Lifters. Spirit Lifters team members are (from left): Aliya Rone, Lynnae Gilder, Karen Leibold, Gail Holtz, Shannon Sanders, SaraJane Brutscher, Laurie Ochoa, Cindy Molitor, Cyndie Knopik, Susan Holtz, Toby Rone, Sandra Dux, Joni Rone and Bella Rone. Back row: Representatives from the top five team fundraiser (from left): fourth place - Chris Ortman, Pierz Healy High School Honor Society; second place - Therese Waddell, Unity Family Healthcare, Family Medical Center; first - Tracy Kjeldergaard, Spirit Lifters; third - Doug Rakow, Pat’s Patriots and fifth - Jane Yorek, Jim’s Farmhands.

Top fundraising teams were honored, as were all the members from the top fundraising team, Spirit Lifters. Spirit Lifters team members are (from left): Aliya Rone, Lynnae Gilder, Karen Leibold, Gail Holtz, Shannon Sanders, SaraJane Brutscher, Laurie Ochoa, Cindy Molitor, Cyndie Knopik, Susan Holtz, Toby Rone, Sandra Dux, Joni Rone and Bella Rone. Back row: Representatives from the top five team fundraiser (from left): fourth place – Chris Ortman, Pierz Healy High School Honor Society; second place – Therese Waddell, Unity Family Healthcare, Family Medical Center; first – Tracy Kjeldergaard, Spirit Lifters; third – Doug Rakow, Pat’s Patriots and fifth – Jane Yorek, Jim’s Farmhands.

Top fundraising individuals honored included: fifth place – Lynnae Gilder, $1,730.25; fourth – Kathleen Huebner, $2,127; third – Mackenzie Vetsch, $2,314.21; second – Therese Waddell, $2,392.93 and first place – Jeri Betts, $3,104.32.

Top fundraising individuals were honored at the July 18 Relay for Life in Little Falls. They include (from left): fourth place - Kathleen Huebner, Bookin’ It with Kathy; second place - Therese Waddell, UFH-Family Medical Center; first place - Jeri Betts, Pat’s Patriots; third place - Mackenzie Vetsch, Jim’s Farmhands; and fifth place - Lynnae Gilder, Spirit Lifters.

Top fundraising individuals were honored at the July 18 Relay for Life in Little Falls. They include (from left): fourth place – Kathleen Huebner, Bookin’ It with Kathy; second place – Therese Waddell, UFH-Family Medical Center; first place – Jeri Betts, Pat’s Patriots; third place – Mackenzie Vetsch, Jim’s Farmhands; and fifth place – Lynnae Gilder, Spirit Lifters.

Top fundraising teams included: fifth – Jim’s Farmhands, $4,147.82; fourth – Pierz National Honor Society, $4,302; third – Pat’s Patriots, $4,906.32; second – Family Medical Center, $4,975.25 and first place – Spirit Lifters – $7,098.95.

That evening, at 10 p.m., the luminaria lighting ceremony was preceded by speaker Therese Waddell, a top fundraiser and member of the UFH/Family Medical Center team, sharing her family’s experience with cancer.

In 2010, the 10-year total raised for the American Cancer Society by the Morrison County Relay for Life reached $1.3 million.

In the years since 2010, the Morrison County Relay for Life has added more than 1/2 million more to that total.

As co-chair Mary Kline said that evening, “This is an amazing gathering. … Families, friends, coworkers, business and community leaders, children, grandparents and neighbors are all here for the same reason — to finish the fight against cancer.”

Lee and Kayla Boyles have come forward as the co-chairs for the 2015 Morrison County Relay for Life.

 

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