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There is a reason that they relay

By Staff | Aug 4, 2019

I know, I know, every year I write about the Faribault County Relay for Life in this space, long about the first of August each year.

There is a reason for that, of course. I happen to be a bit biased towards the Relay for Life. That is because I think it is a good thing.

What is wrong with raising some serious money for a worthy cause? Not much that I can see.

And this year our county’s Relay for Life is celebrating a milestone. It is the 25th year a dedicated committee has been putting on this event.

I?have been here for 10 of those relays, and I can tell you two things. One, the organizers do an excellent job of putting on this big production. And two, this could be the nicest Relay for Life around.

I remember the very first Relay for Life that I attended. It was in Martin County a lot of years ago.

I was asked to be on a team, and my team was also part of the entertainment for the evening.

To be honest, I had never really heard about the Relay for Life. I think it was a pretty new idea.

That relay was held on the Martin County Fairgrounds, and let me tell you, it was not like the one here in Faribault County. There were few trees, the luminaries were out along gravel pathways and it was very, very hot.

Not like here, where the relay is held at one of the most beautiful fairgrounds in the state. It is just like a beautiful park, because, well, it actually is a Blue Earth City Park.

Other relays I have seen have been held at high school tracks or even a softball field complex.

They lose a little in comparison.

The events at the relay are also very well done. There is a lot to see and do pretty much all night long.

Did you know the relay is open to the public and everyone is not only invited to come, but encouraged to show up. It is not just for those people who have signed up to be on a relay team. There is food, fun and entertainment. It is a guaranteed good time.

The other remarkable thing about the Faribault County Relay for Life is the fact that they raise some serious money for cancer research. It is astounding to find out that in their 25 years of putting on a relay, they will come very close to hitting the $2 million mark in donations.

Considering the size of the population of our county, that is an amazing number.

A lot of the success of the local Relay for Life goes to Cindy Nelson. She will tell you that is not true, that it is actually the work of a whole lot of volunteers. And, she is right.

But Nelson has chaired the event for all of its 25 years. And, she was the person responsible for wanting to bring a relay to Faribault County.

She deserves a lot of credit and a giant thank you from the community.

Now, after 25 years, she has decided to step aside and let someone else take over being chairman. That someone, by the way, is her daughter Heather Hernandez.

I thank Cindy for all her hard work and dedication and congratulate Heather for taking over the reins.

This is something that needs to continue. And as Cindy says, she is not going anywhere. She will remain a dedicated volunteer for the Relay for Life.

Why am I so passionate about having these Relays for Life around the state?

Well, like many folks, that dang cancer has hit me hard on a personal level. My family has a too close history with this disease.

My dad, Chuck, died of stomach cancer at the age of 62. His dad, my grandfather, Richard, died in his 60s of esophagal cancer. My mother, Natalie, had ovarian cancer but survived it.

My younger brother, Tim, died at the age of 42 of lung and brain cancer.

My wife Pam’s father, Dean, died of prostate cancer at age 84, and her mother, Lavonne, died of lung cancer at 69.

There’s more, but you get the idea. Cancer has been hard on my family. And on an awful lot of my friends and their families as well.

Maybe it has been on yours, too. I really think it would be difficult to find a person who does not know anyone who has had cancer during their lifetime.

Finding a cure for all the different types of cancer is important. There have been tremendous strides in this area over the years.

Deaths due to cancer have been decreasing steadily over the past 25 years. Of course, not all of that is due to research and finding cures a large part of it is probably due to the decrease in smoking.

None the less, there have been a lot of new treatments and cures found over those years as well. And, I would like to think some of that is due to the Relay for Life here in Faribault County and elsewhere.

I hope to see you at the Relay for Life on Friday, Aug. 9 at the fairgrounds in Blue Earth.