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In an image from last year's Relay For Life in Wadena, paper luminaries honoring loved ones affected by cancer spell the word "hope." This year, organizers will attempt to surpass the $41,000 raised in 2012. Submitted photo

Wadena Relay For Life gears up for 20th anniversary

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The organizers of Wadena’s Relay For Life are working hard at preparing for this summer’s event to benefit cancer research.

New this year is an initiative to get more members on each relay team called, “13 on the ’13 Track,” wherein the goal is to have 13 people per team rather than the typical eight to 10 members.

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Julia Palmer, who is charge of marketing and publicity for the Wadena effort, said the idea is to get people involved who haven’t participated in the Relay before.

“The last thing you want is for the program to seem samey since it’s been going for so many years,” Palmer said.

This year will mark the 20th anniversary of the first Relay in Wadena, held in 1993, according to a press release.

Palmer said the Wadena group also plans to build on the popular “Paint the Town Purple” event from last year where businesses in town sported purple in their windows to show solidarity with cancer survivors.

  The Wadena Relay organizers also have a massive fundraising goal in front of them: trying to somehow surpass the whopping $41,000 they raised last year.

“Forty-one thousand dollars I felt was a very good result,” Palmer said. “We just want to kind of keep increasing it from there.”

The next Relay event on the schedule leading up the Aug. 9 main gathering is the annual Cancer Survivor Open House 1-4 p.m. this Sunday at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Wadena. Although it’s possible to donate money at the event, the open house will focus mainly on the survivors, giving them a chance to share their experiences with others and “celebrate life and fellowship,” Palmer said.

Cancer survivor and Relay organizer Marie Johnson said no official meetings had been held yet, but she encouraged members of the community to come to the open house.

“It’s to celebrate surviving, basically,” she said, summing up the event.

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