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Stark County Relay for Life: Walking for American Cancer Society

Relay for Life teams are preparing to walk throughout the night while raising awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society.

The Stark County Relay for Life gets underway with opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Friday and continues until morning at the Dickinson High School practice field.

"Cancer doesn't sleep," Relay for Life co-chairwoman Cari Obrigewitsch said. "The walk is supposed to signify the darkness of the night with a diagnosis of cancer, but the sunrise signifies hope for the future."

Teams have been raising funds for the American Cancer Society, and participants will have opportunities to visit vendors stationed around the track.

"They will keep moving all night," co-chairwoman Peggy Brown said. "The reason is we can put with a little discomfort for 12 hours, while showing support for the people fighting cancer."

The track will be lit by luminary bags, which may be purchased for a suggested donation of $10.

"The bags signify a loved one who is battling cancer, a survivor or in memory of someone," Obrigewitsch said. "It's amazing to walk around the track and see people's names you didn't know were battling cancer."

Relay for Life hosts a survivor celebration at 4:30 p.m. on the practice field. The celebration is free to all cancer survivors and caregivers. For more information regarding this event, contact Amy Kreidt at

Guest speaker Jane Thompson will talk about the goodness of people that she experienced when faced with cancer.

She was diagnosed in December with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, described as a fast, aggressive cancer. She started chemo in January and was declared cancer free six months later.

Growing up at Richardton, Thompson moved from Minot to be near her mother who was living alone. She couldn't have known that she would be the one needing a helping hand.

"I had people supporting me you wouldn't believe," she said.

Thompson's friends prepared frozen dinners, did the laundry, assisted with errands or helped take care of the three granddaughters she was rearing.

"Cancer isn't a good thing, but good things can come of it," she said. "Maybe the biggest lesson was to ask for help. I learned people are more than happy to help."

She cited one example of her co-workers at Marathon Oil coming on a Saturday to do the yard work -- mowing, painting the deck, tilling the garden and planting flowers.

"They pulled up when I was wearing grubby sweatpaints, no hair (from the chemo) and no makeup," she recalls. "The driveway was filled with people from Marathon with smiles on their faces. It was like Christmas, my birthday and New Year's all rolled into one.

Thompson has kept a positive attitude toward her illness.

"I told the doctor that if I can't have fun with it, I don't want it," she said.

Even if not on a team, everyone is invited to attend the opening ceremonies, walk the track and visit the vendors. Luminaries are available at The Dickinson Press or by calling Brown at 701-483-4803.