The disease never sleeps, and neither does this event filled with fundraising, joy, memories, tears, music, games, and more
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Relay for Life is an annual event for cancer survivors, those in the fight against cancer and their families, and a commemoration of those that have been lost to cancer. This year’s Relay for Life will be held Friday, Aug. 7, at Marshfield Middle School. Opening ceremonies begin at 5:30 p.m., and the event stretches through the night and into Saturday morning, finishing up at 7 a.m.
“Cancer never sleeps, and so that’s a big driving force of why we stay up overnight,” said Heather Adler, a co-chair for this year’s Relay for Life.
This is Adler’s sixth year being involved with Relay for Life. She said that the event is divided into three main components. One is a survivors’ lap, where cancer survivors circle the track as they are cheered on by friends and family. Next is the luminaria ceremony, where paper lanterns are illuminated and serve to remember those that have been lost to cancer.
“Our third part is the fight back where we all commit to continuing the fight against cancer in any effort that we can — with the research and all the fundraisers that the teams do,” Adler said.
Walking around the track and having people sponsor individuals for the amount of laps they completed used to be the prime funding source for Relay, Adler said, but now teams tend to do their own individual fundraisers throughout the year, and walking laps is more of a symbolic occasion.
All money raised at the event goes to the American Cancer Society, and Adler said some of the funds raised locally go to Marshfield’s Hope Lodge and also help local patients who may need transportation to medical appointments. Money is also given to the “Look Good Feel Better” program, which provides beauty sessions to people going through cancer treatment.
Marshfield’s Relay for Life raised $100,000 last year, and the goal for this year is to raise $98,000.
Adler said that she most enjoys the survivors’ lap.
“I just think seeing all those survivors out on the track to me feels like we must be doing something right and good is coming out of the research, the money we’re donating for research, to see all those survivors line the track,” Adler said. “I cry every year. It’s very overwhelming, but with having a child go through cancer, this is my way of feeling good and giving back to others who are battling.”
Heather and her husband Mark’s oldest daughter Abby had retinoblastoma at the age of 4 and lost an eye as a result.
Speaking at the event this year will be the family of Alivia Northcott, a 3-year-old girl who was diagnosed with cancer when she was just 21 months old and is now in remission. State Representative Bob Kulp will also speak.
Adler stressed that the event is meant for the entire community and that all people are welcome to come even if they are not part of a fundraising team.
“We really want to push that this is open to the public. You do not have to be on a team to come hang out and have fun. I mean we have silent auction. We have food concessions, basket raffles, kids games. There’s something for anyone to do,” Adler said. “It’s a public event. We want anybody to come.”
Local musician joe g. — Joe Gustafson — will perform at this year’s relay event. Gustafson’s wife also battled cancer, and she is now in remission.
For more information or to get involved with Relay for Life in Marshfield, contact Heather Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-897-1941.