Lyon County Relay For Life goes forward at new venue

Photo by Deb Gau A silent auction was one of the fundraisers and activities area residents took part in alongside the Lyon County Relay For Life on Friday night. For the first time, the Relay was held at the Red Baron Arena and Expo.

MARSHALL — The crowd was gathered in different surroundings, but the message at the Lyon County Relay For Life was the same. Speakers said it was a night to remember, to have hope, and to work for a cure for cancer.

The 24th annual Lyon County Relay was held Friday night at the Red Baron Arena and Expo. Area residents enjoyed activities and entertainment and walked to raise money for cancer care and research.

The fight against cancer isn’t an easy one. In Minnesota, more than 29,000 people a year are diagnosed with cancer. But there were plenty of reasons for hope, said Betsy Jo Kack, chairwoman of the Lyon County Relay leadership team.

“We have an advantage over cancer, and that’s the generosity of people like you,” Kack said, welcoming participants to the Relay.

Kack said a total of 222 people in Lyon County received patient-related services from the American Cancer Society last year.

Guest speakers at the Lyon County Relay said hope and support were important parts of their own journeys coping with cancer. Dr. Carrie Sueker, one of this year’s honorary Relay chairpersons, said the support of her family, co-workers and students at Marshall Middle School all helped her after she was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer in 2014.

Hope was a powerful tool for getting through her diagnosis and treatment, Sueker said.

“With hope, we were able to get busy fighting,” she said.

Honorary chairperson Ruth Bot said her two focuses for getting through breast cancer treatment were strength and courage. Bot said her diagnosis was something that “caused me to look fear in the face.” The support of others, especially her students at Minneota High School, also helped her face it.

“My kids kept me going,” Bot said.

Jason Klein offered words of encouragement for people and caregivers coping with cancer. After his late wife Leann Klein was diagnosed with brain cancer, Klein said, she did not let cancer and illness define her and believed in loving and living life to the fullest.

The indoor venue was new for this year’s Relay, but organizers said it definitely had some advantages.

“I was very nice not to have to worry about the weather,” Kack said. Storms canceled last year’s Relay at the Lyon County Fairgrounds, although organizers held an indoor event later. At the arena, Kack said, organizers could offer both indoor and outdoor activities.

“It’s also nice to have the sound system,” and the video screens at the arena, she said.

Luminaries honoring people who have had cancer lined paths winding all around the main arena/expo space, as well as outside the building. The first lap of the relay, led by cancer survivors and caregivers, circled the arena. However, Kack said people were welcome to follow the different paths and see all the luminaries.

Light was one of the main symbols of the Relay. During an opening prayer, the Rev. Lori VonHoltum, pastor of Balaton United Methodist Church, said the Bible speaks of the light of life being stronger than the darkness.

“We must focus on the light, always,” she said.