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Relay for Life returns to Harmony after 17 years

Fri, Feb 8th, 2013
Posted in Harmony Features

It has been seventeen years since Relay for Life started up in Fillmore County, and seventeen years since the annual event was held in Harmony. LaVonne Mensink has been a part of the organization since the beginning, but this is the first year she is serving as co-chair, along with Sue Sikkink.

When Mensink first joined, she didn’t have anyone in her family with cancer. Her participation became much more important to her two years ago when her husband Lynn died of periampulary cancer.

July 12, 2013, Harmony will be filled with people who care about finding a cure and preventing more deaths from cancer.

That Friday night, from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. the next morning, teams of people will be walking around the track by the Community Center in Harmony. The pathway will be lit by luminaries carrying the names of people who have died of cancer, survived cancer, and the people who have cared for them.

Right now, the event is still in the planning stages, and Mensink said they are still looking for more teams. Anyone interested in joining a team or starting a new one can go to

According to Mensink, a team can be made up of anywhere from one to 99 people. Fillmore Couny has averaged 30 teams with 20 members.

“Our goal this year is to exceed the number of teams and members of teams and exceed our goal of $125,000,” she said. “Every dollar counts. If your team raises $20 or $10,000, every dollar counts!”

In 2012, Fillmore County ranked fifth in the nation per capita in terms of money raised. A large amount of the money goes to cancer research.

The event itself, although a sobering reminder of how cancer has affected so many people, is a fun time for the entire family. Mensink said there will be a tea held at 4 p.m. for survivors and caregivers, and a supper at 5 p.m. There will be live music, games for kids, karaoke at midnight, Bingo from 2-4 a.m., awards in the morning for the best decorated campsite, and then breakfast. All night long there will be at least one person from each team walking around the track.

Mensink describes the all-night walk as symbolic of the cancer experience. The afternoon symbolizes a person finding out they have cancer. “Then when the sun comes up in the morning, you find hope,” she said.

Luminaries will be sold to light the track, environmentally-friendly balloons will be sold to be released, food and shirts will be sold, and many other items to help raise as much money as possible.

Mensink and Sikkink want the word to get out, that they are looking for more people to join Relay for Life. They would also like to let the schools know that there are many ways to get kids involved in raising money for this great cause.

“It’s something I have always believed in,” shared Mensink. “It’s something we should do whether we know someone or not.”

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