Lanesboro Relay for Life chairmen announce 2019 theme, location and more

By : 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy
Bluff Country Newspaper Group

Get on track — click your heels together against cancer.

“This year’s theme is ‘There is no place like HOPE,’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was the inspiration,” stated Lanesboro resident and 2019-2020 Fillmore County Relay for Life co-chair Susan Peterson.

As she introduced the theme of the 2019 Relay, she also stated the county-wide fundraising event will be held in the Lanesboro Veterans Community Center and throughout Sylvan Park in downtown Lanesboro on Friday, July 12.

Susan and co-chair Michelle Peterson, of the Relay team Root River Rascals, believe the last time Lanesboro hosted Fillmore County’s American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay for Life was approximately 20 years ago, though they aren’t certain. It’s likely there wasn’t a tin man or a cowardly lion involved with the preparations for that Relay.

Michelle commented, “It was held in the same location in Sylvan Park, and now that it’s back, we are looking forward to bringing the community and the Relay together in the fight against cancer. We also hope to bring information to the community to share what the Relay is all about.”

Susan agreed, “We hope to bring more awareness to our community about the Relay and the American Cancer Society. We are fortunate to be following in the footsteps of some fantastic and dynamic individuals who have organized the Relay in past years. Our ultimate goal is to get more people involved in the Relay for Life. Once you attend a Relay, you are drawn in by the fellowship and purpose for the Relay. All of the funds raised go to a variety of things, including research for new treatments and other benefits for those battling cancer.”

Susan and Michelle have big plans for this year’s Relay, one that they hope will scare away the great flying monkey known as cancer.

Michelle pointed out, “Generally, a town serves as a host for two years, and then it rotates to another Fillmore County community. We are very excited to have it back in Lanesboro this year. We hope to involve many community organizations in the event — the more community members and organizations, the merrier.”

She related that volunteers are welcome to follow the yellow brick highway to Lanesboro to lend a hand with Relay events – they can think of themselves as the Munchkins to the Petersons’ Glinda the Good Witch.

“We would love to have anyone that has an interest in volunteering reach out,” Michelle said. “Many hands make light work. At this point, we have several opportunities available.”

Susan outlined the evening’s events, sharing, “We will begin with the Survivors’ Tea, to be followed by a community dinner, kids’ games, silent and live auction, entertainment, bingo, lighting of the luminaries and more. We have changed things this year to end the Relay at midnight, so we are not planning on overnight camping. There is, however, the Sylvan Park campground, which is on a first-come basis. The Survivors’ Tea will begin the event at 3 p.m.”

She continued, “The challenge is just making sure we don’t miss anyone or any detail. That’s where more volunteers would help immensely. We hope that by shortening the event, it will make it more appealing to a wider variety of people to attend. The public is welcome to attend – although the event has had great support in the past, we hope to make this year’s event even more successful. It is an honor to be a part of the Relay, knowing how the American Cancer Society benefits individuals — patients, survivors, caretakers and more — such as financial support or emotional support.”

Michelle commented on the volunteers and teams that have volunteered to help cancer patients have hope that there’s more birthdays over the rainbow.

“We began our team, the Root River Rascals, approximately 17 years ago,” she said. “We are still gathering our team, but I would say that of those who have stepped forward already, we have a wide variety of amazing individuals. New teams are welcome to join all the time — the American Cancer Society is there to help you through the process. Teams can call the American Cancer Society or go online — they are very helpful and supportive. I am not sure what the names of the teams are right now, but there are several community members that do participate in the Relay right now.”

Teams are busy raising money for cancer research — collaborating mightily to conquer the wickedness of the disease — and aiming for a fundraising goal that surpasses last year’s and the goal that was reached the year before that.

Susan cited, “I think this event is special for many reasons. However, I would add that it shows support…it shows that you are not alone. Historically, the Fillmore County Relay has raised a more significant amount per capita than other events. This shows what an amazingly dedicated and compassionate community we are. There are many very dedicated individuals that make this event happen each year. Unfortunately, cancer affects many of us, but people are there to help. Everyone is working together, working to find a cure for cancer.”

The 2019 Fillmore County Relay for Life is slated for Friday, July 12, beginning at 5 p.m. in Lanesboro’s Sylvan Park and community center just next door. For more information, log onto the ACS website at, or check out the Relay for Life Facebook page for updates and meeting schedules at