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Relay for Life event is Friday night at Nobles County Fairgrounds

WORTHINGTON -- Stacks of decorated luminarias, boxes of candles and piles of donated items are being organized for the 17th annual American Cancer Society Nobles County Relay for Life event Friday night at the fairgrounds in Worthington.

This year marks the 100th birthday of the Relay for Life, an annual event that raises money in the fight against cancer. The event consists of three ceremonies, "Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back."

"We honor the survivors in the opening ceremony (at 7 p.m.), which includes celebrating our survivors through the butterfly release," Nobles County Relay for Life co-chairwoman Kim Lambert said. "At 9 p.m., we switch gears to our Remember ceremony. We take a moment of silence to remember loved ones lost to cancer, light the luminarias, and that changes the whole atmosphere of the evening."

At midnight, a closing ceremony will encourage attendees and Relay teams to do what they can to "fight back and eliminate cancer from our children's vocabulary," Lambert said.

Events get under way at the fairgrounds at 5 p.m. with live entertainment, team campsite activities, food sales and ticket sales for the bucket raffle. On the bucket raffle this year are more than 100 items donated by area businesses. All of the money raised from ticket sales goes to the American Cancer Society to help fund research, education, advocacy and service for those affected by cancer.

With a 2013 fundraising goal of $75,000, Lambert reported Wednesday morning that more than $52,000 has already been collected through luminaria sales, donations and team activities throughout the past year.

That fundraising will continue through the night Friday, as team members entice Relay attendees with everything from egg rolls to a pork chop on a stick, cheesy turkey sandwiches, root beer floats, strawberry pie and ice cream sundaes, among other options. In addition, one team will sell tickets for a quilt raffle, another is doing face painting and body shimmers for kids and one team is having a dunk tank. There will be Mardi Gras beads and masks for sale; people can have their picture taken in a photo booth, and one team will have a Plinko game on site.

"I think we'll have something that will interest everyone from ages 2 to 100," said Lambert. "It's a good way to support people who are battling cancer or survived cancer."

Each year, the local Relay for Life event chooses a theme for teams to decorate their campsites. This year, they were asked to decorate for the holidays. Among the holidays chosen were New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Mardi Gras, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, May Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The program begins at 7 p.m. with recognition of Relay organizers, survivors, caregivers, sponsors and teams. Relay for Life Honorary Chairman Al Ritter will tell his story of survival from esophageal cancer and, new this year, two individuals will get their hair cut on the Relay stage and donate their ponytails to Locks of Love, an organization that uses donated hair to make wigs for cancer patients.

"I've been trying to get this for a few years now," said Lambert, adding that Kamryn Meyer, the granddaughter of Gene and Angela Meyer of Round Lake, and Cheyenna John, daughter of Jim and Shelley John of Lismore, each have volunteered to have their hair cut. The hair-cutting honors will go to the highest bidder in a live auction that night.

Also new this year, the Adirondack-style chairs that were created for the Regatta chair auction will be sold to the highest bidder at approximately 8 p.m. on the Relay stage. The Relay for Life was chosen as the recipient of this year's chair auction fundraiser.

Following the chair auction, a live auction will be conducted on some of the larger-ticket items donated for the event. In between auction items, tickets will be drawn and winners announced from the bucket raffle.

At dusk, the lighting of the luminarias will begin. Candles placed in each of the decorated paper bags will illuminate the track through the remainder of the evening, as team members and the public are welcome to walk the track in honor and remembrance of cancer patients.

A closing ceremony will begin at midnight, and the public is welcome to stay for the entire evening or return for the closing to hear a final tally of the funds raised.

In recent days, several Relay for Life team members have been helping to "Paint the Town Purple" in advance of the Relay. Purple banners and bows can be found in Worthington, while in Round Lake, each cancer survivor received a sign to display in their front yard. Also, purple ribbons were added to light poles there.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer can be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

(507) 376-7330