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Relay for Life: offering light and hope

Silas Rehbein, center, and his family are shown in their van. Silas is is this year's Relay for Life honorary chairman. (Submitted Photo)1 / 3
This luminary is an example of the candles that will line the Dickinson High School practice field during the Stark County Relay for Life. (Submitted Photo)2 / 3
Luminaries light the night during last year's Stark County Relay for Life. (Submitted Photo)3 / 3

Luminaries will light the way around the Dickinson High School practice field when the Stark County Relay for Life gets underway on Friday, July 14.

Each luminary (a candle in a paper bag) celebrates the life of a cancer survivor or is in memory of a loved one who has died from cancer. It's also a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society

"It's to give light and hope for the families," said committee member Ninetta Wandler, who is a cancer survivor. "You're almost shocked and in awe of all the people who have had cancer, whether they have survived or passed on."

The luminaries may be purchased from any of the Relay for Life teams, at Hawks Point, Gate City Bank, or during the Relay for Life. The suggested donation is $10 for each luminary.

Also, families may buy a pinwheel card celebrating the life of a caregiver. The pinwheels are placed in a pinwheel garden.

"We want to recognize caregivers, too. Whether you are in bed or outside of bed looking in, it's traumatic," she said.

The 12 registered Relay for Life teams will set up booths around the track to sell food items, crafts or hold games to raise additional funds. Many have been fundraising throughout the year.

One example is the Hawks Point Angels—the team of Jenn Quigley, Relay for Life chairperson.

"We do quite a few fundraisers throughout the year—our team stays busy throughout the whole year," she said.

The Relay for Life starts with survivors registration at 4 p.m., followed by a survivor's supper. The relay store and silent auction also opens.

The opening ceremonies start at 6 p.m., with a greeting by Kent Anderson, Bismarck, a representative of the American Cancer Society.

This year's Relay for Life honorary chairman is five-year-old Silas Rehbein, son of Carl and Savannah Rehbein. They will speak about Silas' journey fighting leukemia. He spiked a fever on Oct. 25, 2016, and went to the ER in Dickinson with a bloody nose. Dr. Baruti Serabe at Bismarck diagnosed Silas with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and he was flown to Fargo for a treatment plan.

Silas is one phase away from long-term maintenance, but he will have chemotherapy treatments for the next 3.5 years. He is looking forward to starting kindergarten this fall.

"As Savannah Rehbein wrote, "We feel so blessed to have the love and support of our friends, family, community and people that we don't even know. We are so thankful for the support and care we have received from our medical team and from so many other people."

Referencing the opening ceremony, Wandler added, "We always have somebody speak about their experiences—it's very heartwarming. Then we have a survivor's lap and a caregiver's lap."

Quigley, who has been involved with the Relay for 10 years, referenced its mission.

"It's the benefits of cancer research. I've had cancer that's been in my family and friends for quite some time and the research is a big part in finding cures."

The best part of the Relay, for her, is watching the survivors lap.

"The survivors start with a lap going one way and the caregivers go another way and watching them meet and finish the lap together—that's the most inspiring. Everybody has been touched by cancer one way or another—either themselves, family or friends and to see people come out as survivors—it's very emotional."

Other fun activities during the evening include a "Wear Purple" lap at 8:45 p.m. Purple is the symbol of a cancer survivor.

"Put on your purple boas, your purple socks, a purple shirt, anything purple," Wandler said.

The luminary ceremonies start at 9 p.m. when the Boy Scouts light the candles. The silent auction winners will be announced at 10:15 a.m.

"Being it's our 20th year, we are serving birthday cake at 10:30 p.m.," Wandler said.

Games, including musical chairs, hokey pokey and the chicken dance, get underway at 11:15 p.m.

In the event of inclement weather, the Relay for Life will go on, but it will be moved inside the high school.

Because cancer never sleeps, Wandler added, 'It's always good if a member of your team is walking on the track at all times—you will meet a ton of new people."

The closing ceremonies are at midnight.

The Relay committee didn't set a fundraising goal.

"The biggest thing is that every dollar counts," Quigley said.

"Please support the American Cancer Society," Wandler added. "We all know somebody who either has had cancer or is touched by it."