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Cancer relay raises $105,000

After sharing their stories, Cole Haabala (right) walked with his grandmother, Pat Haabala (left) and led the survivors lap around the field. (Photo by Nichole Roell)1 / 3
More than 100 survivors participating in the relay released balloons after the survivors lap. (Photo by Nichole Roell)2 / 3
White bags represented lives lost to cancer, brown represented survivors. (Photo by Karla Mikkelson)3 / 3

Under a clear, starry night on July 13 and 14, about 700 people gathered at Citizen's Field in Alexandria to participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Douglas County.

The event began at 6 p.m. on Friday night and ran until 6 a.m. Saturday morning.

"We wanted to raise awareness and funds for the Cancer Society, and we did that. The community participation was great and the event flowed really smoothly because of the commitment and the dedication of the committee members," Natasha Rawlngs, committee member of the Relay for Life, noted.

Some of the highlights during the night included the honoree survivors, Cole Haabala, Pat Haabala and Brenda Larson sharing their stories, a vintage car show and balloon release.

"The participants were a highlight, too. For many, it was the first time they had been to a relay, but for others, they had been there before. It took a community to make this relay, not just a committee," Rawlings noted.

Another breathtaking display that many participants looked forward to during the event was the luminaria ceremony.

"We had given bags out to places around the community for people to decorate. At the event, we had 2,298 luminarias border the track," Rawlings said. "We wanted to make sure that every survivor and victim was remembered."

Whether walking to remember a victim or raising awareness, 44 teams participated in the relay, including the three top teams - Alexandria Extrusion Company, Tastefully Simple HQ and Douglas County Hospital - and more than $105,000 was raised during the event, but donations are still being accepted and tabulated.

"We would like to thank anyone who donated to the relay in any way, shape or form. Whether it was donating their time or money, it was appreciated," Rawlings noted.

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