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No growing pains for cancer walk

Some came to Robert Boeckman Middle School to walk Friday night. Others came to show their support in other ways, such as these boys who cheered and held up signs as walkers passed.

The 2010 edition of Farmington's annual fund raiser for the American Cancer Society was bigger, longer and more successful than ever.

Friday night's Relay for Life, the first overnight walk held in Farmington to benefit the ACS, brought in at least $47,000 for cancer research. That's about $15,000 more than last year's Ramble and Amble and $6,000 more than the group's goal heading into the event.

The Ramble and Amble involved teams walking a few hours on the paths through Dakota City Heritage Village. This year's Relay for Life took that idea and made just about everything bigger. The walking continued for 12 hours on the track at Robert Boeckman Middle School. There was a DJ playing music and there were a number of other events taking place alongside the main activity, from a spaghetti eating contest to a silent auction to bake sales and hair dying.

Even the DJ got in on the action, offering to play requests for $1 and to stop playing a really awful song for $2.

Melissa Thone, community relations staff partner for the ACS, said everything ran smoothly.

"Everybody was really happy about the location. Everybody understood and appreciated the symbolism. There were a lot of great comments about the luminaria and being able to walk through the night."

Friday's relay started with speeches from several people who have been affected by cancer. Fire chief Tim Pietsch talked about his relationship with former chief Ken Kuchera, who died earlier this year.

The overnight format is filled with symbolism. The 7 p.m. start, as the sun begins to set, represents the dark time when a patient first hears the word "cancer." The night symbolizes the patient's journey and the sunrise the next morning stands in for the end of treatment -- the light at the end of the tunnel. Thone said many of the people who spent the night walking appreciated the meaning attached to the overnight event.

About 20 cancer survivors attended the walk and there were a few hundred people there who had been touched by cancer in some way.

Not everybody stayed the entire 12 hours, but most did. There were tents set up on the field inside the track and there were games and a petting zoo for kids.

Thone said she particularly enjoyed seeing the luminaria that lined the track to pay tribute to cancer patients or people who had died from the disease.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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