The Rice County Relay for Life event on the Rice County Fairgrounds Friday evening was a successful one according to organizers.

Last year a virtual event was held with luminaries lit and people driving through the fairgrounds to view them.  This year it was more normal with musicians taking the stage and teams participating in person.

An American Red Cross Blood Mobile was very successful.  A Survivor Cake and Coffee Reception held.

When bank night was over last Monday evening there were just over 15 hundred luminaries.

The number at the time of the lighting of those luminaries was 2,792.  Fewer than last year's 3,030.  They have been going down in recent years and organizers are perplexed because more and more families are being touched by cancer.  The cost for the luminaries has not increased in a very long time.

During the Opening Ceremony Lisa Quimby sang the National Anthem beautifully and Honored Cancer Caregivers Robin Donahue and Sara Donahue Speckhals did an incredible job telling their story of caring for their son and brother Adam.

Both said being a caregiver is not easy.  Adam was 28 years of age when he passed about 14 months ago.  He had a tumor on his brain stem.  A sudden numbness in his legs led him to go to the doctor.

They both stated having Hospice assist in Adam's final months gave them the opportunity to step away from caregiving and become mom and sister again.

There were 57 pre-registered survivors at the Faribault event with 1,150 total years of cancer survival.

We know there are many others and would love for them to participate.  No cost is required.  It's a great way to network with other cancer survivors.

Honorary Cancer Survivor Tiffany Stanton delivered a simple yet poignant message for those in attendance during the Luminary Lighting Service.  She repeatedly told everyone to "get checked."

Stanton pointed out she delayed and that the outcome most certainly would have been different had she not waited.

No final fundraising total is in yet but I can tell you as of Midnight Friday the funds raised in 2021 were $53,798.68.

I did receive an update today (Monday, August 9, 2021) with still some more expected approximately $66,000 had been raised.  There were 9 teams participating this year.  The peak year 2002 there were 40 teams.

In 2020 $58,106.57 were raised even without the lovefest (I like to call it) on the fairgrounds

Going into this year's event the Rice County Relay which started as the Straight River Stroll had raised $2,442,456.84.  The event started in 1993 with 8 teams raising $8,000 and 285 luminaries.

The peak year of 2007 there were $132,166.92 raised with 36 teams participating.

Proceeds go to the American Cancer Society for research primarily but some of the funds are used to assist local residents battling cancer.

When I get a final number I will share it with you.  For all those who stopped by Friday night thanks for your attendance.

Please consider forming a team or simply attending and bidding on a silent auction item or purchasing some food with proceeds benefiting the Rice County Relay.

The ACS is making some progress as evidenced by the number of cancer survivor years represented at this year's event.

A woman in attendance this year was diagnosed in 1993 while living in Owatonna and then attended the Straight River Stroll the following year.

That's what it's all about.  Giving people more birthdays.

I did take a few photos and share some of them here.

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