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Strength is shared at Relay For Life

June 27, 2013

	Korine (Gerdes) Golda, right, releases her butterfly after making a wish during the Nobles County Relay for Life event held in Worthington. 
Korine (Gerdes) Golda, right, releases her butterfly after making a wish during the Nobles County Relay for Life event held in Worthington.
“Strengthen” was the theme of the opening invocation at the Nobles County Relay For Life, and strength was seen everywhere. In the speakers, in the audience, and in the volunteers who put on the event.

Pastor Joe Behnke of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church gave the invocation, followed by the national anthem by Meagan Meier. Greg Rossow, American Cancer Society Community Relations, recognized the Ellsworth High School boys basketball team and Minnesota West basketball teams for taking part in the Coaches vs. Cancer fundraiser.

Elementary schools in Adrian, Brewster and St. Mary’s in Worthington were recognized for taking part in the Recess Relay, an event to promote healthy eating, exercise, sun prevention and limiting tobacco use.

Relay For Life Honorary Chair Al Ritter shared his story of his fight with esophageal cancer. “Prayer, mental attitude and Harry Potter” were the keys to his surviving, according to Ritter.

“Blessings in disguise” were seen along Ritter’s story, as he was first diagnosed with cancer when he underwent heart surgery. “They has seen suspicious tissues,” Ritter shared, but doctors were fairly certain it was cancer. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments for five months and then was told he should have surgery.

After taking some time to think about it, Ritter decided “it was better to have a life changing surgery than no life at all.” During that surgery, doctors spotted additional cancer on a lymph node. Additional chemotherapy left him completely cancer free as of December 21, 2010. “That was quite the Christmas present to get,” he said.

The series of unusual occurrences which led to his cancer discovery, which led to finding further cancer, has been a “series of miracles” Ritter said. “God was helping me out.”

Ritter shared several strategies that he followed during his fight with cancer and urged others to do the same.

• “Do everything the doctors told me to do and exactly as they told me to do it.”

• Pray often.

• Always maintain a positive, upbeat attitude.

• Every time he received a radiation or chemotherapy treatment, Ritter would visualize the cancer cells in that area dying.

• Almost always eat three meals a day. “I thought of each meal as medicine for my body.” Drinking plenty of water was also important.

• Talked to brothers, sister and cousin often on the phone, and “I learned to talk out loud to myself, and yes, I do answer.”

• Set a personal, urgent goal. “This is where Harry Potter came in,” Ritter explained. An avid fan, Ritter wanted to see the next two movies in the series, which were set to be released “beyond the date I had been given. I was furious and frustrated, and vowed that I was going to see those two movies,” he said. “And I did!!”

Following the survivors ceremony, where the survivors released butterflies and made a wish, an auction for the Locks of Love was held. Cheyenna John, daughter of James and Shelley John of Adrian, and Kamryn Meyer, daughter of Megan Meyer and granddaughter of Gene and Angela Meyer of Round Lake, offered their hair. The girls donated their hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for children undergoing cancer treatment.

Ten-year-old Cheyenna had offered her Locks at a Relay in Luverne a couple years ago, and got her second ever haircut. Jack Sliver served as auctioneer for the event, and encouraged bidders to donate for the opportunity to cut her pigtails. Grandfather Alvin John and father James John were the winning bidders.

Seven-year-old Kamryn offered her glorious locks for someone in need. “This is a way we could help,” explained her mother Megan. As the bidding ensued, Chad Cummings earned the right to cut the first pigtail. Gene Meyer had to outbid a persistent bidder in order to cut his granddaughter’s hair.

Donated Adirondack chairs were auctioned off at the Relay For Life, with proceeds going toward the Relay. These chairs were to be auctioned at the Regatta, but weather intervened.

Due to the weather on Friday night, the luminaria were unable to be lit, but teams walked the path in the hopes of finding a cure for cancer. In all, over $67,000 was raised at the 17th annual Nobles County Relay For Life. Donations can still be accepted and credited to this year’s event until August.

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