The 22nd Annual Blue Earth County Relay for Life is making strides for a cure at Ray Erlandson Park.

Survivors, those diagnosed with cancer and anyone touched by the disease are taking one step at a time with the hope of bringing an end to the devastation cancer causes.

St. Clair Superintendent Tom Bruels said, "We've lost staff members, we've lost young students, recent grads to cancer and it strikes home."

For members of St. Clair schools, cancer is a rival they take on every school year with their annual coaches versus cancer, but tonight they gather with hundreds of others to bring an end to this disease and recognize those who've won their battle.

Blue Earth County Relay For Life Committee Chair Brooke Osmundson said, "One big event to celebrate those who have beat cancer."

It's also to thank the caregivers who made the fight possible, provide support those just beginning their battle and those no longer with their families because of the disease.

In these steps, Relay helps to fund cancer research including at the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic and Children's Hospital.

It's also dollars that come back into area communities to help cancer patients.

Brooke Osmundson said, "A lot of the money that is raised here in Blue Earth County stays in the state of Minnesota, whether we have the road to recovery, we have two hope lodges, one in the Twin Cities and one in Rochester."

For Brooke Osmundson, planning this year's Relay holds special meaning with her mother recognized as the honorary survivor.

Nine-year cancer survivor Sheila Osmundson said, "It was scary, now it's filled with hope. I was let go in February from my oncologist, so I feel like my life is just starting over again."

About 850 people in the greater Mankato area will be diagnosed with cancer this year, which is expected to claim nearly 300 lives this year.

Intermixed with the difficult reality is a message of hope.

Sheila Osmundson said, "It's hard to see people going through cancer, and I want to give them hope that the treatments are coming and they are making strides against beating this disease."

The local American Cancer Society is hoping to raise $100,000 this year and organizers say they are on the way to that goal with people who've fundraised through the year.


--KEYC News 12