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Editorial: Relay for Life event helps serve the community

Cancer in one way or another touches the lives of just about everyone, either directly or indirectly. It's a widespread disease that reaches nearly every family, whether it's mom or dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters, cousins or friends.

Millions of dollars go toward cancer research each year and the medical community has made huge strides in diagnosing and treating cancer. Thanks to that treatment and research, cancer is no longer a death sentence for everyone diagnosed with the disease.

It takes a lot of money, time and dedicated effort to fight this terrible disease that has taken so much from so many families.

The 23rd annual Relay for Life will be held Friday, June 9 in Park Rapids from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. with a program at 7:30 p.m.

Teams walk the high school track for eight hours to raise money and raise awareness. The event needs and deserves more support.

Last year, Relay for Life raised about $35,233 locally. That's a nice amount, but should be more. Over the years team, participation and dollars raised has fallen off.

Relay for Life used to draw 25 to 30 teams and raise $75,000. This year, there are 11 teams signed up and organizers hope to top last year's total.

The teams will set up camp around the high school track and provide at least one member walking the eight hours. White luminary bags in honor of or in memory of a loved one are available from any team member. The luminaries line the track and are lit at sunset.

Relay for Life volunteers encourage the community to stop by the evening of June 9 for a visit, sample the food and take a look at the luminaries.

It's a powerful event that touches many lives.

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life is the world's largest fundraising event to end cancer, uniting communities across the globe to finish the fight.

Dollars raised by more than four million Relay participants in 24 countries help the American Cancer Society save lives by supporting education and prevention efforts, funding groundbreaking cancer research, and providing free information and services for people with cancer who need them.

In 2013, the American Cancer Society (ACS) granted $31.8 million to the Cancer Action Network to ensure lawmakers make cancer a top national priority.

The ACS marked a 20 percent decline in cancer rates since 1991. According to the ACS, that means 1.3 million lives saved.

Since 1946, the ACS has invested more than $4 billion in cancer research, and since 1965 there has been a 50 percent drop in smoking, which in turn has led to an overall drop in lung cancer death rates.

In 2013, the ACS saved patients more than $38 in lodging costs by providing a free place to stay when they travel for treatment.

Hubbard County ACS services include the following:

• Free night stays at an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge to cancer patients going through treatments.

• Free or reduced cost hotel stays were given where a Hope Lodge wasn't available.

• Free rides were given through the Road to Recovery program that helps get patients to and from their lifesaving treatment sessions.

• Patients attend Look Good Feel Better program to help them cope with their appearance related side effects.

• Breast cancer patients received one-on-one support from a volunteer with a similar breast cancer experience.

• Wigs were given out free of charge.

• Gift items were provided, including bras, prosthesis items, and head coverings, to cancer patients undergoing treatment.

• Patients used the Personal Health Manager program.

• Services provided to Hubbard county residents..

There are good things happening locally and nationally in the fight against cancer and providing services to those going through treatment. Locally, Relay for Life organizers and volunteers are seeing a dip in participation. Friday's event is a great way to get involved.

Think about those close to you affected by cancer, and consider participating in your local Relay for Life.