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Fillmore County’s 9th Relay for Life to be held in Rushford


Fri, Aug 1st, 2003
Posted in Features

The community of Rushford will host the county’s 9th annual Relay for Life on Friday, August 8, starting at 6:00 p.m. and concluding at 6:00 a.m. Saturday, August 9. The event will take place near the city’s fire station and the Depot Museum where a stage will be setup for programs and entertainment. Funds raised by the relay will be passed along to the American Cancer Society for research and development.

Nine years ago the event started out with a few thousand dollars being collected. Joyce Jacobson, of Harmony, the chairman of the Fillmore County Cancer Society, has seen that amount continue to grow as the spirit of the relay brings in new participants and visitors each year. This year’s goal is $70,000, - quite obtainable as 2001 saw $60,000 raised and 2002 hit $69,000.

"We’ve got big shoes to fill when looking at how well the other communities have done in the past," proclaimed Karla Holland of Rushford. She and Maynard Gudmudson are co-chairpersons of the event. Past host communities include Spring Grove, Harmony, Lanesboro, and Fountain, with each city taking the event for a two year period.

The theme this year for the relay will be "Blast from the Past". Tracy Schimer of Spring Valley is in charge of costumes and contests as teams compete for the best decorated campsites and outfits.

There are approximately 31 teams registered for the relay with each team having 12-15 members. Teams come from churches, businesses, and organizations coming together to raise funds for a needy cause while having a great time doing it.

“They’re the main core, so wonderful and motivated," stated Lynda Koliha, the board’s Income/Volunteer, referring to the teams that fundraise. Throughout the year teams raise money through special events like bake sales, drawings, rootbeer float stands, selling refreshments and much more. Teams also sell luminaria throughout the year for $5 each.

Luminaria, small white paper sacks weighted down with sand and a lit candle inside, will line the route, which starts near the Depot and runs to the American Legion Club, around the Valley Veterinary Clinic, through the Pickle Alley and back to the Depot. Each sack reflects the name of a cancer survivor or one who has lost the battle against the killer. The flickering shadows of several thousand luminaria during the late evening and early morning hours guides a member of each team as they walk along the parade route.

A Survivor’s Tea and program will start at 4:00 p.m. on Friday at the Tenborg Community Center, 113 E. Jessie St. At 5:30 p.m. survivors will register at the fire hall. Shari Boyum, Utica, is chairman of the tea. Ann Ott, Preston, is in charge of the Survivor’s program with Vicki Kreuger, Preston assisting her. More than 400 invitations have been sent, said Koliha, but she hopes that anyone that was missed will feel free to attend as well.

The lunch stand will serve up grilled hamburgers, hot turkey sandwiches, B.B.Q. pork, beans, chips, pies, pop, coffee and water. This will continue on until 9:00 p.m. or later, depending on the amount of food available.

Each year businesses and organizations are encouraged to donate what they can, be it a monetary gift; items for the drawing; food for the lunch such as beef, pork, pies, and bars. Corporate sponsors including Witt's Pharmacy, Farmers Co-op Elevator, K-Trip, Rushford American Legion, and Rushford State Bank donated this year’s T-shirts.

Following introductions, the first lap will be completed by cancer survivors as teams, lined up along the track, clap and cheer for the true winners of the “relay for life”. Throughout the evening, entertainment will be provided by area folks. There will also be a basket auction. At 9:30 p.m. the luminaria program will begin. Blessings, the lighting of the candles, music and reading of memorials will complete the program.

Walkers will be treated to free pizza served at Stumpy’s Bar and Grill from 10:45 p.m. until midnight. From midnight to 5:30 am activities reflecting the "Blast from the Past" theme will be conducted along the track. The Rushford Lions Club will be serving a breakfast of French toast and ham at the Legion Club at 6:00 a.m. as activities wind down.

Funds collected by the Relay for Life will be turned over to the regional center of the American Cancer Society, located in Rochester. Services provided by funds collected include the Road to Recovery Program, Fillmore County’s Health Department representatives visiting schools to educate children against the harms of tobacco, providing drivers for those who need to go to clinics for appointments, and much more.

Even if you are not on a team, all walkers are encouraged to join the relay. Any questions about this year’s relay can be directed to Karla Holland at 864-7816 or Maynard Gudmundson at 864-2615.



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