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Relay for Life brings smiles, along with tears to many area cancer survivors

Luminaries line the track at Park Rapids Area High School to honor and remember those who have battled cancer. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

The 2009 Hubbard County Relay for Life teams raised more than $54,000 as of Monday.

The organization is still in the process of tabulating the total amount of money raised this year.

Friday's rain and thunderstorms led to the cancellation of the lighting ceremony, but the rain stopped and the sun started shining just in time to honor cancer survivors and remember loved ones.

Three-year-old torchbearer Lydia Sanderson, who's a two-year and seven months cancer survivor, received the most applause from the audience as the program directors honored her.

Other survivors were honored and greeted and hugged by oncology nurses Marti Fischer, Kathy Oines and Bev Phelps.

The event brought tears and smiles to many faces.

Beth Colburn's eyes began tearing up as she told her mother, Margaret Torkelson, how proud she was of her for staying positive through the battle. Torkelson beat cancer twice.

Supporters continued walking beside the "hope" and "cure" signs for the rest of the night. Most cancer survivors say they participate in Relay for Life every year and encourage those battling cancer to stay strong, positive and to never lose hope.