Honoring those that came before; Past, present honorary chairs recognized at 27th annual Relay for Life

Published 9:00 am Monday, July 30, 2018

When the past honorary chairs took to the stage at the 27th Annual Relay for Life on Saturday night, one thing was clear: cancer doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone from the young to the young at heart.

After performances by the Stix of Fury from Blooming Prairie, presenting of the colors by VFW Post 1216 and the singing of the national anthem by Noah Lund, around 12 of the past honorary and junior honorary chairs were recognized for their fight against cancer. From the young children who fought against childhood cancer to the adults who continued to share their testimonies of hope that one day, the cure would be found. Some celebrated years of remission, others shared their ongoing battle against cancer.

Past honorary chairs were welcomed on stage Saturday night during the annual Mower County Relay for Life at the Mower County Fairgrounds.

Anna Good, co-chairwoman of Relay for Life of Mower County, said that this was the first time that all previous honorary chairs were honored and recognized all together.

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“This was something that we wanted to do for the last few years,” Good added.

Preliminary estimates on the amount of money raised for Relay for Life of Mower County wasn’t available by press time, but Good anticipated that it may be around $40,000, which was close to the amount that was raised last year.

People attending the Mower County Relay for Life Saturday night bow their heads in prayer during the opening ceremony.

Among those who spoke was James Robinson of The Hormel Institute, who researches drug resistance to melanoma. He stated that it was fundraising efforts by the American Cancer Society and events like Relay for Life that directly benefit his ongoing research to find better treatment options, and eventually, a cure for cancer.

“American Cancer Society funds research for all types of cancer,” Robinson said. “Thank you for funding cancer research.”

Despite the headways that cancer research has made, there hasn’t been a cure for cancer that has been found. However, survivors continue to hope for a brighter future.

Mower County Relay for Life’s Michael Jordan talks about his personal fight with cancer Saturday night.

One of such was this year’s honorary chair Mike Jordan, who was recently re-entering treatment for prostate cancer and was a 52-year survivor. He spoke to a crowd of about 100 people, and instilled his hope into others that despite the long days and nights, to keep “positive.” He also shared his message that despite having to continue fighting the disease, the 82-year-old man still had many things he was grateful for, like the support his family had given him over the years, as well as being able to receive quality local health care from Mayo Clinic Health Systems in Albert Lea and Austin.

“I can’t complain,” Jordan said to the crowd. “I’ve been so fortunate. The support from my family and my wife, who’s an excellent caregiver, it keeps me going. Treatments and coming home can take much of the energy out of you. We can’t say enough, thank you for the support.”

As he said this, Jordan pointed to the luminaries that lit the track, where the survivors and the caregivers would walk around throughout the night in honor of those who they loved, and reaffirmed the mission of the American Cancer Society: one day, cancer would be defeated.

“It affects every family somewhere along the way,” he said. “That’s my hope, that someday there may be a cure for all of us.”