A walk for cancer

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 16, 2003

More than 250 people walked in a circle at the fairgrounds from 6 p.m. Friday night to 6 a.m. Saturday morning.

It was the first year for Freeborn county’s Relay for Life event.

For the Cancer Survivors group of Albert Lea, the event was more than just a fundraiser. It was also a show of community support.

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The Cancer Survivors group has been meeting for more than 10 years, according to Sheri Van Wy, of Albert Lea. Van Wy’s husband, Chuck is a cancer survivor. She said the event is heartening for the group.

&uot;This is fantastic,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s great to see so many people come out to support this event, especially in its first year.&uot;

The group raised over $6,000 for the event.

According to Jenny Habana, the co-chair of the Freeborn County Relay for Life, 250 people and 20 teams signed up to raise funds for the event.

People sponsor walkers and buy luminaries- the bags with candles- in honor of someone.

More than 3,800 communities nationwide have a Relay for Life fundraiser. The relay is the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraiser.

Friday night started out with a group of nearly 100 local cancer survivors making a walk around a makeshift track, which was bordered by white bags with candles inside, each one with words dedicated in memory or honor of a person with cancer.

As they neared the finish line, many of them cried and their family members and friends, who lined the track also welled up with emotion.

For all of them, it was an important event to champion. Cancer has touched all their lives.

The support was obvious when the final count

of money raised came in Saturday.

Friday night, Habana had set her goals high, hoping to collect $25,000. Early Saturday morning, after all donations were counted, she said the event had raised $37,500.

Laurel Buss and her co-workers made a team called Dinah’s Styles- Hopeful Hearts. The group walked Friday for the husband of the owner of the Albert Lea beauty salon Dinah’s styles.

They were surprised by the turnout.

&uot;It shows a community of hopeful hearts,&uot; Elaine Sonka, who helped to organize the team for Dinah, said.

For Buss, cancer is something she knows all too well.

A receptionist at Dinah’s, she has had five separate bouts with cancer, two times with breast cancer and three with skin cancer.

&uot;I’ve been blessed with a wealth of support with family, friends, and faith,&uot; she said.

&uot;Thirty six days of radiation and she never missed a day of work,&uot; Sonka added.

Buss is modest about her fighting spirit. Free now of cancer, she hopes that people will become more aware of it.

&uot;I think this is wonderful,&uot; Buss said. &uot;To have a big network of people show up for this is great. You can just imagine what this will be like next year.&uot;

Contact Peter Cox at peter.cox @albertleatribune.com or 379-3439.