Fillmore County towns are eager for the opportunity to host Relay for Life. Earlier Relay for Life events in Fillmore and Houston Counties were a joint venture; one year in Fillmore County, the following year in Houston County. Houston County no longer holds a relay event. Host communities must commit to hosting the event two years in a row. This is Fountain’s second year hosting Relay for Life. It will be held on Friday, July 28, at the Fountain Community Center from 3–11 p.m. In 2024 and 2025, Spring Valley will host the event.
This year’s Relay for Life of Fillmore County theme, “Every Step Brings Hope,” illustrates the cancer journeys many individuals in Fillmore County have been on or are currently on.
The 2024 emcee and guest speaker is well-known Harmony resident and inspirational speaker Jay D. Masters. Masters shared, “This one was special to me because I lost my only sibling, a brother, to leukemia when he was just 25, and I lost an aunt to breast cancer at 40. So, I am doing it for them. Then after emceeing the event for five years, I was diagnosed with stage IV throat cancer. I had chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatments at the same time. The chemo depleted my immune system so much I was hospitalized with viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. While there, it was determined I had a blood clot in my left lung and one that ran the length of my right leg. Plus, before I left the hospital, I got a feeding tube. Even with the feeding tube, I lost 35 pounds. I spent 15 days in the hospital while I finished my radiation treatments. My recovery was slow, but I gradually put on weight and got back some of my energy. After a couple of months of recovery, my nurse in chemo told me I was a miracle.”
With less than two weeks until the event, $33,544.51 has been raised and continues to rise daily. The committee’s goal is to raise $100,000.00, and your help is needed to reach that goal. According to the Relay for Life of Fillmore County online event page, “Your donations help fund groundbreaking cancer research, patient care programs and can make a difference in communities like ours.”
Megan Kennedy, senior development manager, American Cancer Society, Rochester explained that the majority of funds go to cancer research, education, preventive screening and treatment, transportation, Hope Lodge, 1-800 support line, and advocacy on the National and local level.
There are 13 teams registered to participate in this year’s relay. Check out the names of each team, as they are personal and meaningful. Participating groups include Major Heroes, Ramblin’ Rosebuds, C.H.R.I.S., Up All Night, The Shooting Stars, Next Gen Forward, Chatfield Chatty Walkers, United with Hope, BFF Breast Friends Forever, Mission: Possible, #teamscotty, Koch’s Clan, and Giving Cancer The Boot ~ #CandiStrong.
To donate to your favorite team or individual, visit https://secure.acsevents.org/site/STR?pg=entry&fr_id=105200.
Kennedy works with the volunteer committees throughout her region and praised them, “The volunteers are Rock Stars.”
Mabel resident Chris Hansen, a long-time Relay for Life of Fillmore County volunteer, added that her team had sold raffle tickets, sanctioned by the American Cancer Society with a Minnesota license, to raise funds for quite a few years. Hanson noted, “When we first started, we had 500 tickets, and now we have 1,000.” Raffle tickets are available from Hanson or purchased at Mabel BP.
Long-time volunteer Sue Sikkink added that teams had held golf tournaments, garage sales, bean bag tournaments, and custom-designed t-shirts to raise funds. It is fun to watch the amount of donations rise online daily.
The Survivor Tea kicks off the event at 3 p.m. Cancer survivors, their families, and caregivers are invited to attend the tea. According to the Minnesota Department of Health there are 1,346 cancer survivors in Fillmore County and 303,255 survivors in Minnesota.
Fillmore County Journal readers are invited to attend the relay and help the town of Fountain reach their goal. In addition to contributing to the teams, there is a community supper from 5-7 p.m., and from 5-9:30 p.m., everyone is encouraged to bid on silent auction items donated by area businesses. The opening ceremony is at 6 p.m. Cheer on your favorite team as they take steps forward from 6-10 p.m. The walking track will be lit with luminarias to light the way for the walkers and shine a ray of hope. Luminarias can be purchased and decorated in memory of a loved one. From 10-11 p.m., there will be bingo at the community center, followed by the closing ceremony at 11 p.m.
Volunteers are needed to help with the event. If you would like to volunteer, call (800) 227-2345.
The Relay for Life of Fillmore County is “dedicated to raising money for cancer research at the American Cancer Society.” Won’t you help? Your financial support will help save a life!