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Survivors, families honor loved ones at Relay for Life walk

Bagpiper Brian Solum led the Relay for Life ceremony, followed by flag bearers Jacob Zinniel, Owen Wagner and Jacob Zinniel, all Boy Scouts from Troop 58. The “Survivor’s Lap” is a celebration of their victory over cancer. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)1 / 3
Lumanaria tribute bags, honoring loved ones who have battled cancer, encircle the Park Rapids Area High School track.2 / 3
Heartland Homes urged Relay for Life participants to “adopt a stuffed animal.” The cuddly critters ranged in size and price, from a quarter to $15. All proceeds went to the American Cancer Society. Posing, from left, are Heartland Homes Executive Director Bill Simpson, Jerry Kimball, Sharon Roberts and Tammy Mikesh.3 / 3

Celebrate.

Remember.

Fight back.

That’s the mantra of Hubbard County residents affected by cancer.

It’s also the dominate theme of Relay for Life.

Cancer survivors, caregivers and supporters gathered Friday for the 22nd annual American Cancer Society fundraising event.

"Almost all of us know someone lost to cancer, but we may be comforted by memories," said Nicole Weston, master of ceremonies.

"We can be comforted knowing we’re never alone in this process," she said. "As you walk around the track, take time to listen, share a story or shed tears of peace. Little things do matter."

To date, 11 teams and 90 participants raised $31,500 at Hubbard County Relay for Life.

Proceeds go toward cancer research, cancer prevention and support for cancer patients, such as free lodging, transportation, wigs and other resources.

"We know 60 percent of cancers can be prevented," said Denae Alamano, an American Cancer Society representative based in Bemidji.

"We’re constantly researching ways to prevent cancer," she said, adding that cancer rates are down 20 percent since the 1990s.

Within five to six years, Alamano said there’ll be a cholesterol test that can identify 21 types of cancer.

"You are the face and voice in this community, and Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society are lucky to have you," Alamano told the crowd.

2016 Miss Park Rapids Chelsea Swenson shared the reasons why Relay for Life is dear to her heart.

As part of her pageant platform, Swenson chose to fundraise Relay for Life.

"It was an easy decision as I’ve been participating in Relay for Life since I was little," she said.

Swenson lost her grandfather, Mike Fraune, to an incurable cancer.

"Illness wasn’t going to stop him from living life," Swenson said, overcome with emotion. "I’m thankful for that."

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