By Josh Moniz
NEW ULM - The 17th Annual Brown County Relay for Life mixed carnival-like fun with sombre rememberings of those who have been diagnosed with cancer Friday night at the Brown County Fairgrounds.
Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Denise Risen, of Madelia, helps her son Ian light a luminary at the 17th annual Brown County Relay for Life event held Friday at the Brown County Fairgrounds. The event goes until 6 a.m. today.
The event is a celebration of the Brown County Relay for Life's fundraising efforts for the American Cancer Society. Cancer survivors and family members of those that were diagnosed with cancer gave testimony at the event.
This year's honorary chair was Brian Braun, of Sleepy Eye, who was diagnosed with a football size tumor in his chest from T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma/Leukemia, and the tumor was inoperable. However, Braun has battled the tumor with a combinations of drugs over the last few years. Doctors were amazed by the postive personal health he was able to maintain through the ordeal. He has had steady progress and is currently undergoing maintainence treatments, which is required for two years before he can be official deemed cured. He spoke on stage at the event.
The speech was followed by the traditional lighting of the luminaria. Luminaria are paper bags, filled with gravel and a lighted candle, that have the name of a cancer survivor or someone who has died from cancer. They are the organization's primary fundraiser. When lit, the thousands of luminaria cause the names of cancer victims and survivors to glow and shimmer along the Survivors Lap path. Over 4,500 luminaries lined the track this year.
Additionally, several milk jugs with candles in them, like the luminaria, were arranged on the grand stand to spell out "Hope," "Cure" or "Life." The configuration of the three words they formed rotated every two hours.
The lighting was accompanied by the Survivor's Lap around the lighted grounds.
Beyond the official ceremonies, the event also featured several fun events for children and adults, such as a DJ, carnival games and a food stand. The New Ulm Medical Center hosted a popular dunk tank, which featured nurses and doctors from its cancer ward. The money collected from people attempting to dunk the participants will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
Brown County Relay for Life Co-Chair Sue Dietz said the fun activities were intended to bring more people to the event and celebrate the lives of those that survived.
"I don't have exact numbers, but we have a lot more people this year. I think everybody wanted to come out after being stuck inside with the heat. We were lucky with the weather," said Deitz.
This year's event featured Survivor's Lap featured 127 participants. Those participants made up 23 teams and 5 virtual teams, which are teams that raised funds online instead. In the past 16 years of the event, it has raised a combined total of over $1.3 million.
The event goes all night and will conclude this morning at 6 a.m.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org