Celebration for survivors and supporters

The Relay for Life event has come a long way from Dr. Gordy Klatt walking and running around a track for 24 hours to raise money for cancer in 1985. It has now become a worldwide phenomenon that has raised more than $4 billion to fight cancer. Relay for Life is the signature event for the American Cancer Society.

Relay for Life, which originally started as a 24-hour event, now lasts just 12 hours and it’s an overnight event to help represent the cycle of cancer, said Laurie Odden, community relationship manager of the Great West Division of the American Cancer Society. The relay event starts in the daylight hours when it’s sunny and the person doesn’t have the cancer diagnosis yet; the darkness of the night represents the dark time of diagnosis and treatment that the person endures; and the sunrise of the new day represents the hope of a remission diagnosis and coming through the trials of cancer. “We try to get into the mindset of cancer and try putting people in the shoes of someone who has it,” Odden remarked.

Minot’s Relay for Life will take place on Friday on the front lawn of Old Main on the campus of Minot State University. It starts with kids’ activities at 4 p.m. and continues until 6:30 a.m. the following morning with fun and meaningful activities taking place in between. There will be a silent auction, raffles, games, bounce houses, a magic act by local magician Blake Krabseth, music and entertainment. Rolling Thunder DJ’s will be the DJ service for the night as well. There will also be the Miss Relay contest, where gentlemen dress up like ladies, which will take place at 9 p.m. Additionally, there will be a Survivor Cupcake Social at 6 p.m.

The opening ceremony for Relay for Life starts at 7 p.m. with a survivor speaker and then the survivor lap, when survivors walk to celebrate their victory over cancer, followed by the caregiver lap to recognzie those who have given care to cancer patients. After that, all of the relay teams are invited to walk together during the opening lap. The luminaria ceremony, where candles are lit to honor loved ones who have died or are fighting the disease, will occur at 10 p.m. Individual walking is observed throughout the night with games, activities and entertainment. The relay ends with the closing ceremony at 6:30 a.m. and relay walkers round the track one last time to pledge action-taking and spread awareness of cancer research, treatment and prevention.

“There are lots of things to look forward to at Relay for Life,” Odden remarked.

A very important part of Relay for Life is the luminaria ceremony, Odden said. People can buy luminarias in honor of someone or in memory of someone lost to cancer. Luminarias are $10 and are available at SRT North, Minot Guaranty and Escrow or by logging onto the website at (minotrelay.com). If you purchase a luminaria online, the bag will be decorated and be available at the event.

This year, there are 51 relay teams signed up for Relay for Life, Odden said, with 10 to 15 people on each team. Usually, the Minot Relay for Life brings in probably a thousand people, she added. Also, Odden noted, Relay for Life is open to the public and people do not have to be on a relay team in order to participate. “You can just come out and see what it is,” she continued. “Maybe you’ll catch the bug and come out again next year.”

Odden said the goal for Minot’s Relay for Life this year is $100,000, and “we’ll probably exceed that.”

People coming to Relay for Life can expect to have fun as well as experience emotional highs and lows. The luminaria ceremony is very emotional, Odden said. “Emotions from laughter to tears will be experienced,” she added.

One thing that people enjoy about Relay for Life is just being together with other survivors, Odden said. People also enjoy how the event brings survivors and caregivers together, she added.

Odden said they try to keep everything new and different each year for Relay for Life. “We have to keep things exciting so people come back next year,” she quipped. “We also want every cancer survivor to have one more birthday. We’re going to fight this disease, that’s the ultimate goal.”

“We want people to come out and it’s for a good cause. There are lots of fun things going on all night,” Odden said.