Groups unite to fight back against cancer
It was all rain and gloom outside the University Center Rochester Field Houseon the evening of July 15, but it was sunshine and smiles inside.
Though inclement weather forced activities indoors for the 18th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Olmsted County, hundreds of vendors and participants were making the best of the situation. The general mood was a positive one. One volunteer said, "We haven’t let cancer stop us, so a little wind and rain can’t either."
With the slogan "Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back," the activities began at 5 p.m. July 15 with a survivors reception and ended at 6 a.m. July 16 with a closing ceremony. Throughout the world, Relay for Life is a "round-the-clock event with activities and entertainment planned throughout the night."
"In between the night and early morning, we have a lot of fun," said Joann Hickmanof Stewartville, who was there with her family, including son, Zack. "He’s part of the team Brock’s Bull Busters in honor of a fellow fifth-grade classmate and good friend, Brock Erickson, who has survived leukemia."
Erika Polanskyhas served on the Relay For Life committee for 10 years.
"It used to be that the word cancer meant a death sentence. Now we all know someone who is surviving with it," she said.
Braxton Ramakeralong with his mom, Wendy, were in attendance for the second year. They, too, were walking for Brock Erickson.
"This is what it is about — support for friends. We are excited to do the walk together," said Ramaker.
The booth set up by Team Rocco Altobelliwas offering haircuts and Locks of Love/Beauty Length cuts for the fundraiser.
Sam Brownof Red Wing had his long hair cut and a beard trimmed.
"I’m happy to get rid of this hair — been growing it for nearly a year," he said.
Amid the tents set up indoors were numerous food vendors, including Hiller Carpets' walking taco booth, a popular attraction.
Annie Rohde,community relations manager for the American Cancer Society ,said, "It is so rewarding to have so many people come out on a night like this. The weather is no deterrent, I guess."
Premier Securityand Mayo Medical School studentsvolunteered to help assure the well-being of participants.
Honorary chairperson Hanna Hughes, 17, a Rochester high school student, led the survivors victory lap around the indoor track.