‘Spreading Hope One Step at a Time’

Under the 2013 theme “Spreading Hope One Step at a Time,” participants of the 4th annual Relay For Life of Waconia are poised to celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer during the 2013 Relay For Life of Waconia, which will be held at the Carver County Fairgrounds in Waconia on Friday, Aug. 16.
Relay For Life is held in more than 6,000 locations across the globe to raise funds to fight all types of cancer. Attendees enjoy food and activities offered by participants and their teams to raise money for the American Cancer Society. At any time, at least one member of each team is walking a path throughout the event.
Organizers encourage everyone to visit the Relay, which is free to attend.
“Join us for food, fellowship, fundraising, silent auction, demonstrations, music, activities, entertainment, hope and remembrance,” said D.J. Teeselink, chairwoman of the Relay For Life of Waconia.
The gates open to the public at 4 p.m. At this time, team members prepare their booths and start offering their activities. Don’t forget to check out the always popular silent auction, which also begins at 4 p.m.
“This year’s silent auction includes sports tickets, restaurant gift cards, theater tickets, fun family activities, entertainment, memorabilia, local music items, a ride to school with Officer Karnes, themed baskets and much more,” Teeselink said.
Also at this time, one can register for the annual Survivors Dinner in the Entertainment Center, which will feature Minneapolis-based musician Tim Mahoney.
The dinner is served at 5 p.m. and is followed by a special activity and photos. For more information about the dinner, contact April at (952) 564-7237.
After a Pre-Opening Ceremony featuring a performance by After the Heroes that starts at 5:30 p.m., the Opening Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. followed by the Survivor Lap, which will be led by Honorary Survivor Tate Maurer of Waconia.
Previous Honorary Survivors include Colleen Reich (2010), Brettly Stulc (2011) and Jen Keaveny (2012). Aurora Gilliam of Waconia is the 2013 Honorary Caregiver.
The always touching Luminaria Ceremony will occur at dusk (approximately at 9 p.m.). Activities continue until the closing ceremony early Saturday morning. At the Relay, be sure to catch performances by vocalist Nikki Allen and PTH, a Twin Cities based band that features Josh Goergen, Nick Ramm and brothers Austin and Matt Stole.
In just three years, the Relay For Life of Waconia has earned a reputation of success.
“To date, Relay For Life of Waconia has raised over $418,000,” said Elizabeth Hackbarth of the Midwest Division of the American Cancer Society. “That is outstanding for such a new event and (credit can be given) to all the supporters and Waconia community for their fundraising efforts and desire to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society.”
If the Waconia tops the half-million dollar mark this year, it will be thanks to the tireless efforts of its many participants and teams, such as Wes’ Walking Warriors, which supports Wes Schiffler, who is battling a grade IV brain tumor. Wes’ Walking Warriors was recognized as the overall top fundraising team in Minnesota last year after raising $30,565 in 2012. The team has already raised more than $35,000 for this year’s Relay.
Laura Mohling, the co-captain of Wes’ Walking Warriors along with Karyn Willenbring, said the success of their team is two-fold.
“Each year, Wes has reached out to a tremendous network of friends, family, and colleagues sharing his story and asking for their support,” she explained. “The generous response to Wes’ efforts speaks to those donating but also represents how strongly people feel about supporting Wes and the fight against cancer.
“Secondly, our team of close friends and family host a backyard concert each year, ‘Music on the Beach,’” Mohling continued. “This event involves the entire team but showcases the children. The ‘warrior’ kids work throughout the summer preparing to perform as well as planning and crafting fundraising items. The passion and creativity of the children inspires generous support from the community.”
In 2013, more than 300 people attended Music on the Beach, which was held in late July.
“Through the generosity of donors, Wes’ Walking Warriors has surpassed its three-year goal of raising $100,000 for the American Cancer Society,” Mohling noted.
As for the 2013 Relay, the goals include raising $150,000 and attracting 75 teams and 100 survivors. At least 550 people have participated in the Relay each year since it started in 2010.
Teeselink said the funds raised will benefit Waconia and Carver County in a number of ways, such as helping create prevention and early detection guidelines, investing in cancer research and advocating for public policies.
The funds will also help track the number of people serviced in Carver County through patient-related information requests (treatment options, transportation assistance, patient programs and support services), HOPE Lodge stays, free rides to/from treatment sessions, hotel stays and Look Good Feel Better sessions and provide for one-on-one support from volunteers and additional state, community and non-profit resources.
Teeselink thanked the Relay’s major sponsors and contributors, including the Carver County Fair Board, CenturyLink, KJGT 88.3 FM Waconia, letmkno Marketing, Mackenthun’s Fine Foods, Outdoor Living, Super America, Urban Communications, Waconia Area Women of Today, Waconia Lions and the Waconia Patriot.
Whether you’re on a team or just visiting for a few hours, organizers hope to see you at the Relay.
“Now more than ever in its 100 year history, the American Cancer Society has very aggressive goals to find a cure for cancer. We look forward to ‘Finishing The Fight’ with the Waconia community on Aug. 16 at Relay For Life!” Hackbarth said.
To learn more about the 4th annual Relay For Life of Waconia, visit www.relayforlife.org/waconiamn.

Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]