Relay teams unite: Individuals, other groups raise funds to fight cancerGerald VanBruggen was by himself Friday as the Stutsman County Relay for Life started. While teams were being introduced VanBruggen was to the side reading the names on thousands of luminaries. It’s the same routine each year for this lung cancer survivor as he searches for names of people he knew.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Gerald VanBruggen was by himself Friday as the Stutsman County Relay for Life started. While teams were being introduced VanBruggen was to the side reading the names on thousands of luminaries.
It’s the same routine each year for this lung cancer survivor as he searches for names of people he knew.
“I went through a lot of treatments,” VanBruggen said of his cancer battle.
While people were dressed up in costumes from wizards to Where’s Waldo, the Relay for Life was this community’s battle against cancer.
“On my 12th birthday I went to the funeral of a classmate that died from cancer,” said Mary Reed, online chairperson for the Stutsman County Relay for Life.
Before the event started about $106,000 was raised for the help finding a cure. Reed said she was hopeful that the all-night event could raise the remainder needed to reach the $142,000 goal.
“I’m involved because cancer is everywhere,” Reed said. “My mother died of cancer when I was 12 and my mother-in-law died exactly 10 years ago.”
This year the number of teams was down to 30, but hundreds still came to the event at the Stutsman County Fairgrounds.
Teams were comprised of the young and elderly, and ranged from businesses to families.
Karen Finck is the team captain for the Jamestown High School Girl’s Hockey Team/Walz Pharmacy.
“I thought it would be a good thing for the girls to get involved with and help the community,” Finck said.
Since the end of February the team has raised the second most in the community with more than $8,300 for the relay.
“Each year they’re doing it they’ve come up with different ideas,” she said of the girls’ hockey team.
Like most people, Finck knows someone who has battled cancer.
“I’ve known so many people that have had cancer and survived and those who have had cancer and not survived,” she said.
Ave Maria Village has been involved in the Stutsman County Relay for Life for five years but this is the first year it earned the top spot for donations.
Last weekend about 1,500 people attended a rib fest which raised close to $9,300.
“It’s better than 11 bake sales, I’ll tell you that, and a lot more fun,” said Tim Burchill, Ave Maria Village CEO.
For Burchill a cure is also important as two co-workers have died from cancer in the past year and a half at Ave Maria.
“We have to keep going until a cure is found, and until they find it, we’ll keep going,” he said.
Those in attendance on Friday showed their full support and shared their stories, oftentimes while holding back tears.
Nina Hintz took over as event chairperson because “It was my turn to give back,” she said.
Seeing the community come together for this cause on Friday, however, became her real reason for becoming involved.
“I’m a 17-year-survivor and I know a lot of people that aren’t as lucky as I was,” a teary Hintz said. “It must be the reason God left me here.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org