Relay for Life more than a fundraiserMarlene Anderson has at least 10 reasons to strike back against cancer. The South Superior woman, a cancer survivor herself, lost her father and father-in-law to the disease.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Marlene Anderson has at least 10 reasons to strike back against cancer. The South Superior woman, a cancer survivor herself, lost her father and father-in-law to the disease. Six of her cousins have contracted various forms of cancer. And her husband was just diagnosed with kidney cancer.
“It’s so prevalent; there’s just so much of it,” Anderson said. “I really don’t think there’s anybody who hasn’t been touched (by it).”
The South Superior woman is an avid volunteer for the Superior/Douglas County Relay for Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society to battle cancer with education and research.
“She’s just very dedicated to the fight against cancer,” said Joni Tauzell, senior community relations staff partner for the American Cancer Society. Anderson is also a member of the Bethel Lutheran Church team, one of the top fundraising teams for the Douglas County relay.
Thursday, Anderson will tell her story at the annual survivor’s dinner in the conference center at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior. Registration begins at 5 p.m. with a program at 5:30 and dinner at 6 p.m.
What began as a small reception to show respect and celebrate survivors has grown into a big sit-down dinner, said Lydia Miller, chairwoman of the relay’s survivorship committee and a cancer survivor.
“It’s to celebrate life and the people who have made it this far,” said Miller. All survivors are welcome to attend at no cost. They can bring a guest, but a donation is requested for that person’s meal.
Relay for Life
The Relay for Life event itself runs from 6 p.m. July 8 to 8 a.m. July 9 at the Wessman Arena track. It is more than a fundraiser. It is a time to remember those who have lost the fight against cancer, celebrate survivors and have fun.
“It’s a serious time, but a good time, too,” Anderson said.
The event features music, dancing and karaoke courtesy of Best Quality Entertainment. There will be games throughout the night and a campfire with hot dogs and s’mores. At about 8 p.m., the Mr. Relay event takes place. Male team members dressed in women’s clothing will circle the track, collecting cash donations in their purses.
“It’s just a really fun thing to do,” Tauzell said.
The luminary ceremony begins at 9:45 p.m., with candles being lit along the track to remember loved ones lost to cancer and those who have been touched by the disease.
“It’s such a moving experience to walk around the track with the luminaries lit,” Anderson said.
The theme for this year’s relay is “The Oldies,” and walkers are encouraged to pull out tie dye T-shirts and polyester pants for the event.
A total of 254 participants on 23 teams have been raising money for Relay for Life through bake sales, concerts, parties, rummage sales, chili dinners and even a lawnmower race. Local children have gotten into the act, too. Students at Four Corners and Northern Lights elementary schools and Superior Middle School held mini-relays to raise money. The Four Corners event alone raised about $7,000, Anderson said.
“I’m just very, very excited about all the things people are participating in to make it successful,” Tauzell said.
Those who know about the Relay for Life are really pitching in, Anderson and Miller agreed. And it’s not too late to be part of the event. The relay is free and open to the public. Anyone can stop by the Wessman track during the walk, enjoy the festivities, watch the participants or take a few laps around the track themselves. Donations will be accepted at the event, as well.
Last year, the Superior/Douglas County Relay for Life raised a little more than $78,000. This year’s goal is $81,500.
“We’re a little over halfway to goal, which is a good thing,” Tauzell said.
For Miller, who has been attending the relay since it began 18 years ago, the relay is more than a fundraiser.
“It means the world to me; it’s part of my life,” she said. Cancer has touched many members of her family, most recently a niece who died of ovarian cancer.
“It’s a way to give back to the community and those who helped me through my difficult days and then hope for the future, that we find a cure and no one needs to hear the words ‘you have cancer,’” Miller said.
To register for the Thursday night dinner, call Miller at (715) 394-4146 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Superior/Douglas County Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/superiorwi.