Cancer Survivors Join Together

For some it’s a chance to remember, others a reason to celebrate, but every step taken at the Barnes County Relay for Life was a step toward finding a cure for cancer.

“The world with less cancer and more birthdays gets closer with every Relay for Life event,” said emcee Paul Leier during the opening ceremony.

Funds raised from the event go to the American Cancer Society, which sponsors Relay for Life, to find cures and fight back against cancer, team developer Carol Grenz said.

The annual event was held Friday night into Saturday morning at Valley City State University Shelly Ellig field.

“We get to laugh and cry,” said Tami Kratz of Valley City who is on the LaFarge Dakota Inc. team. Her team has been participating in the Relay since it was first held nine years ago. Kratz appreciates the support given by her family and friends but also by the community.
This year’s Relay for Life theme was “The Magic of Relay: Dream It, Hope It, Cure It.” That is exactly what the relay is all about. The relay gave all who are affected by cancer a chance to support each other and share their story.

During the opening ceremony Lisa Black shared her cancer journey story. Black is a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor who said her cancer journey has changed her perspective on life. “Everyday is definitely worth living,” she said.

Following Black’s speech, cancer survivors introduced themselves and spoke briefly of their cancer battle. Then, they took the honorable first lap around the track while Leier played “I Will Survive.” When they were halfway through, the family and friends who cared for them during their cancer battle met them and finished the lap with them. Leier played “Lean on Me.”

Each survivor was given a purple carnation. “I think it means good luck,” said Ken Clausen, cancer survivor from Kathryn.

Plenty of supporters came out to participate in activities and relay. Delores Card, Valley City, is a survivor of cancer and particpates in the event every year. While she’s not on a team, she attended the event to talk with her friends and fellow cancer survivors. “It’s very good for us survivors to be remembered,” she said.

Just as the night set in, the luminary ceremony was held. Luminary bags fillled with glow sticks, some with candles, lined the track at Lokken Field. The luminaries were purchased for $5 in honor of all those affected by cancer. Following a speech, relayers were asked to help light the glow sticks in the bags.

Lisa Black and Anna Knight conducted the luminary ceremony, and Kit Clemo, who is on Team Nemo, shared her cancer story.

Clemo is a nine-year breast cancer survivor. During her speech, Clemo said “Yeah, I have cancer, but that’s not a death sentence--not anymore.”