Posted 3/18/09 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
With snow piled high and temperatures just beginning to climb above freezing, it’s difficult to imagine the Watford City Tourist Park filled with tents, fundraising booths and enthusiastic walkers. But in just 2-1/2 months that will be the scene as the Rugged West Relay For Life kicks off its eighth annual Relay Night on May 29, 2009.
“This is the 25th anniversary of the first ever Relay Night,” says Crystal Wold, Rugged West Relay For Life co-chair. “We are still hashing out the details, but in celebration of the anniversary, this year’s event will be extra special.”
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a fun-filled, overnight event that mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones, support those battling cancer and raise money for the fight against cancer. Teams gather with tents and sleeping bags to participate in Relay, bringing together people from all walks of life in support of a good cause.
This year’s theme is ‘Back to the Future, celebrating 25 years of hope.’ It’s hard to feel anything but hope as you watch cancer survivors of all ages and walks of life take their first lap around the course.
“I got involved in Relay because of my nephew, Reese Frick who is a cancer survivor,” says Wold. “It takes a different tone when cancer strikes someone that close to you. It’s hard to see anyone suffer through cancer, especially when it’s a family member, but in the end, it gives you the drive to do whatever you can to help.”
Relay team members help fight cancer by raising funds for research and awareness of preventative measures.
“When cancer strikes your family, it motivates you to get involved,” adds Wold. “I don’t want to see anyone else in my family go through cancer and Relay is my way to help prevent that.”
It’s not easy to coordinate an event as large as the Rugged West Relay For Life, which is why event chairs and committee members are busy planning the event while summer is still months away.
Currently, there are 10 teams registered with eight to 40 members each. According to Wold, getting a team together is relatively easy because teams aren’t required to have a specific number of members or raise a certain amount of money. The only requirements are that they register and pay a registration fee that can be paid by a sponsor or raised by the team.
“Since Relay started in McKenzie County the community has raised more than $260,000,” says Laurie Odden, American Cancer Society, Great West Division community relationship manager. “There is a great team of volunteers out there in McKenzie County - their fundraising is just awesome!”
In 2008, there were 13 Relay teams in McKenzie County that raised a combined total of $64,006 for the American Cancer Society. The Rugged West Relay For Life has come a long way since their first year when they raised $10,000.
“Our goal this year is to have 14 teams and raise $60,000,” comments Wold. “I know that our Relay teams are busy with fundraising to help get us to that goal. Some fundraisers going on right now are candle sales, raffles and pictures with the Easter Bunny during Spring Fling, and there will be other fundraisers going on between now and the Relay.”
You don’t have to be part of a Relay Team to attend the Relay. The night is designed to offer something for everyone. It is packed with fun, games, food and lots of emotions.
“Relay Night is an amazing and emotional night,” adds Wold. “It is a chance to walk the track and remember those that have been lost to cancer, those who have survived their fight with cancer and anyone currently battling cancer. It is really great to see how the community pulls together during fundraising and the Relay.”
The 2009 Rugged West Relay For Life event will be held on May 29. But there is still time to find a team and get registered. For more information about registering a Relay Team contact Karen Holte at 842-4621.