Main Event: Weather-shortened Relay raises $106,000 for ACS

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The ACS Mission Marchers team walks at the Relay For Life of Olmsted County Friday, July 17. The event was held at University Center Rochester.

Carrying the message of hope in their hearts, some 650 people attended this year's Relay for Life of Olmsted Countyand raised more than $106,000 for the American Cancer Society.The event was held July 17-18 at Rochester Community and Technical College.

Following an opening ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Friday — which included the survivors lap — attendees participated in the luminaria ceremony, a late-night pizza party, and the Not So Newlywed game. Due to severe weather, the event was called at 1 a.m. to ensure everyone's safety.

Honorary survivor chair was Patty Burtof Utica. In August 2013, Burt was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her brain. She has since had four brain surgeries, and friends have dubbed her the "Rockstar," because she has come home from the hospital the following day after each of her surgeries.

"I'm fighting this every step of the way," she said.

Burt was nominated by Team Smudge, a group, she said, "of amazing people I think of as family. They've known me for so long, supported and prayed for me."


Also attending was the newly crowned Miss Winona, Brittany Moncrief, a long-time supporter of Relay for Life. Supporting the American Cancer Society is her platform as Miss Winona.

"This is something I am really passionate about," she said. "I've spent so much time relaying. I've fundraised, served as both committee member and chairperson, and been involved in Colleges against Cancer. I want to do whatever I can to help find a cure."

Two-time cancer survivor Sue Whitcombattended with friends Cindy Kahnand Cecile Holmen. Whitcomb, who has participated in Relay for 12 years, walked the survivors lap with her daughter.

Holmen, participating in relay for the fifth year, said she appreciates the luminaria ceremony.

"It's overwhelming to walk in and see all the luminary bags," she said.

Relay committee member and Wings of Hope team captain Ryan Wuertzsaid more than 800 luminaria were placed along the walkway in honor of people lost to or currently fighting cancer.

Wuertz, who works in cancer research, said this is her seventh year participating.

"I love the event," she said. "It's family-friendly and a great way to remember loved ones. The luminaria ceremony is a peaceful experience."


Wuertz's team, Wings of Hope, was walking in memory of Buck Schultz, who passed away two years ago.

His wife, Donis Schultz,said she is a strong supporter of Relay for Life.

"Everybody is working together. I'm happy to be here tonight," she said.

She added that caregivers really need support from friends and family, because "the cancer journey is like a roller coaster, and that's when you need your friends."

Team Jackson's Angelswalked in memory of Jackie Reliand, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 38 from a five-year battle with ovarian cancer.

"It's fun to rally around the team tonight," said team co-captain Jackie Gunderson. "This is a nice opportunity to catch up with her caregivers and family."

During opening ceremonies, cancer survivor Stan Shubertspoke to Relay for Life attendees. Through his journey with cancer, he came to some new realizations and he shared those with the crowd.

"First, live life to the fullest," he said. "Do something you've never done before, and that you have a desire and a passion to do. Second, love one another. Third, never, ever give up hope."


For more information about Relay for Life, visit .

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