Relay for Life to be held in person in Lanesboro July 9

By Jennifer Bissell

Participants in the Fillmore County Relay for Life have a lot of reasons to celebrate this week as they gather for the annual fundraising event. 

Participants in the Fillmore County Relay for Life have a lot of reasons to celebrate this week as they gather for the annual fundraising event. Held at the Lanesboro Community Center beginning at 7 p.m., Friday, July 9, the event is back on the calendar after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to go virtual. 

What is Relay for Life
Relay for Life is a national fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, with events held on a local level throughout the country. Fundraising teams are formed with roughly 10-15 members per team. Prior to the event, each member is encouraged to raise donations for the American Cancer Society.
At the actual event, members of each team take turns walking around a track or path for the entirety of the event, which can last from a few hours up to 24 straight hours. Throughout the walk, cancer survivors and caregivers are celebrated and those lost to cancer are remembered. In addition to raising funding for the American Cancer Society, the events raise awareness for prevention, detection, treatment and support. 
In Fillmore County, this year’s event kicks off with a silent auction, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Community Center Gymnasium in Lanesboro. Opening ceremony starts at 7 p.m., followed by survivor recognition, blessing of the ceremony and a few guest speakers. Luminaries representing those lives that have been touched by cancer will be lit following the opening ceremonies and will remain lit until 10 p.m. 
Cancer survivors take the first laps during the event. 

This year
Garrett Stadsvold is the Senior Development Manager for the American Cancer Society, managing the southeastern portion of Minnesota. Stadsvold said of the seven counties he manages, all of the in-person events were moved virtual last year.
“More than 33,000 people across Minnesota will be diagnosed with cancer just this year,” he said. “COVID has affected and interrupted the treatment of individuals with cancer and impacted the American Cancer Society so much so that the organization was fighting to stay open so we could continue our mission.
“The funds we are trying to raise this year are so important, not that other years were not important. The reality is most of us know someone who has had cancer. This is a massive team effort in so many ways, so we can stop cancer and find a cure.”
Thanks in part to the COVID-19 vaccine and social distancing, Stadsvold said the organization is in “a lot better shape” to host a more traditional Relay for Life event this year.
“The things we had to do this past year as an organization, such as using technology and other methods to reduce cost, have changed a little bit of how we operate our Relay for Life events.”
Stadsvold said each county is doing things a little differently. Examples include implementing more space at each event and putting the focus on highlights, such as the luminary ceremony.

Whole year involvement
Relay for Life isn’t limited to one day of the year. “There is always time for people to get involved, even after the event,” said Stadsvold. “We raise money all the way to the end of the year and then do it all over every year to help fund the amazing cancer research.” 
To donate, sign up or learn more about Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org. 

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