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Relay for Life set for Aug. 10

Photo by Rachelle Klemme Janice Aagard, treasurer for Wadena County Relay for Life, sets up silent auction items at Mid-Central Federal Savings Bank Tuesday morning, in anticipation of the Aug. 10 event at Sunnybrook Park. Aagard herself is a cancer survivor.

Purple is in this season - at least for Wadena area businesses displaying support for the 19th annual Wadena County Relay for Life event Friday.

Julia Palmer, who works with marketing and public relations for Wadena County Relay for Life, said something new for this year was Wadena storefronts had their windows decorated in anticipation of the big event.

Additionally, teams will hold silent auctions at Sunnybrook Park.

An event new to the previous year - the dove release - will return to the Relay as well.

The relay to raise funds for cancer research is scheduled to be held at Sunnybrook Park, or in case of inclement weather, the 4-H building at the Wadena County Fairgrounds.

Relay for Life is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

Food will be served from 5-8 p.m. The suggested donation for the meal of hot dog or hamburger with beans, chips and a beverage is $6 for adults and $4 for children, with root beer floats at $1. Proceeds from food sales benefit the Relay for Life fund along with other donations.

The opening ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m.

This year's caregiver speaker is Lin Bentrup, wife of the late Dick Bentrup.

"My husband was a social worker with hospice and home care," Lin said. "He was diagnosed in 2010 with an extremely rare cancer."

Lin said her husband lived a good life, and she was honored to be asked to speak about him.

This year's survivor speaker is Jil Fiemeyer, on behalf of her daughter Jane Fiemeyer.

Tom Aagard will act as this year's torch bearer.

Following the opening ceremonies, the lighting of luminaries will be held at 8 p.m.

"We set the luminaries up around the park - the walkways - and you can walk all night and see the lighted candles in the bags and read the names on them," Relay for Life Treasurer Janice Aagard said.

Luminary bags can be purchased in memory of or in honor of people with other medical conditions besides cancer. The bags themselves can be purchased from Immanuel Lutheran Church, Ben Franklin and Tri-County Health Care, among other businesses and organizations in town.

Relay for Life co-chair Missy Keskitalo said the Wadena County event, which has 10 teams this year, does not have a specific number goal for fundraising, but generally tries to achieve the funds raised the previous year.

Last year's event raised about $47,000.

The different teams have their own events and fundraisers to contribute to Relay for Life.

Local Relay for Life organizers have been involved from year to year, and often have been personally affected by cancer.

Aagard, a cancer survivor herself, said a friend encouraged her to get involved in Relay for Life. This is her sixth year with the Relay.

Keskitalo, who has been with Relay for Life for 13 years, said she became involved when her father was diagnosed and subsequently passed away from cancer.

Palmer has been involved for 10 years between Staples and Wadena, and said someone in Staples inspired her.

"Everybody that you know, either through work or friends or family, has been touched by cancer one way or the other," Palmer said.