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Annual Relay for Life adopts creative themes

Stutsman County’s annual Relay for Life ceremony begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at the University of James-town’s Taylor Stadium and finishes at 5 a.m. on Sunday. It’s a somber event, but also a strengthener and act of encouragement. Not everything about remembering friends and loved ones who didn’t make it through their bouts with cancer is ugly. Some things are beautiful and totally creative. For sure, the effort each year to put together the Relay for Life is a beautiful and creative venture.

The colorful necklace surrounding Jamestown’s “World’s Largest Buffalo,” Dakota Thunder, was placed during a rainy June 6 and made us all rethink the role of that huge concrete critter that greets every driver heading east or west between the two Interstate 94 exits to our city. It stands wearing dozens of colorful wreaths strung together like a chain that might draw attention to a visitor getting off at one of those exits. From I-94, it seems to be wearing a Fruit Loops necklace. Now that does draw attention.

All the assembly and connections were done by volunteers, and with the help of Newman Signs, the larger-than-life “I support the cancer fight” wreath was attached, along with the release of dozens of balloons. These events followed a survivor tea and a number of individual fundraising group activities for contributors. The event was heroic and was meant to draw attention to the devastation caused by this scourge.

Like the winners at the Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes or the Kentucky Derby, where the winner gets a trophy and flowers hung around the neck of the winning horse, Thunder, wrapped in the colorful chain of wreaths, represents one of the world’s biggest challenges — eradicating cancer. Anyone who has run that race knows firsthand how that feels surviving a battle that may leave you dead or nearly so. It is a run for life, and it is the biggest race in anyone’s life when he or she is trying to outrun cancer.

Many money-making events have taken place, leading up to the Relay for Life. Dances, bake-offs, raffles, rummage sales, preliminary mini-runs and even a tea were done. And the volunteers who took care of Thunder’s “necklace” outdid themselves. Balloons and wreathing were first-time additions for the Relay. Great job, volunteers.

On Saturday, volunteers, cancer survivors, caregivers and loved ones of those whose lives were snuffed out by the scourge of this century will be on hand to celebrate, remember, discuss and entertain while earning money for cancer research.

Relay for Life begins with a dedication ceremony at 6 p.m., and events are planned throughout the overnight relay. It is open to the public. Anyone can buy a luminary and/or run or walk the relay. Teams from around town will have group locations on Taylor field. Each team adopts a theme and dresses and acts with that imagery.

The overall theme is “Super Heroes and Heroines.” Every person fighting or who has fought cancer is just that — a superhero.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.