This chair, donated by Drury's in Fountain, will be the prize of the “Heads or Tails” game, held during this year's Relay for Life in Harmony on July 12. The chair is being displayed in banks throughout the county until the event.  SUBMITTED PHOTO
This chair, donated by Drury's in Fountain, will be the prize of the “Heads or Tails” game, held during this year's Relay for Life in Harmony on July 12. The chair is being displayed in banks throughout the county until the event. SUBMITTED PHOTO
With a goal of raising $125,000 for the American Cancer Society, the Fillmore County Relay for Life is already nearly halfway to reaching that goal. With 29 teams signed up to participate in the event, slated for July 12 at the community center in Harmony, Chairman Sue Sikkink has reported that $54,472.09 has already been banked. Over 400 individuals have signed up to help raise money for cancer support services, research and education.

"We are so grateful for all the team members, committee members, all working together to make another successful year," Sikkink said.

As the event nears, the schedule of events has been set with the survivor and caregiver tea beginning at 4 p.m. Chris Hansen, a cancer survivor from Mabel, will be the featured speaker.

Opening ceremonies will be held at 6 p.m. and the focus will be on the reasons "why we walk."

According to a hand-out from the American Cancer Society, survivors relay for the hope that all will come together as a community every year to celebrate the lives of all those who have faced cancer, from the newly diagnosed to those reaching the five-year mark to those who are long-term survivors.

Participants also relay to celebrate caregivers - all those who have cared for loved ones or friends battling cancer.

They also remember all those who have gone too soon. They walk for the hope that the community will continue to muster the strength and determination to fight back against cancer.

There will be several activities for children, from 5 to 7 p.m. and a community supper, consisting of shredded pork sandwiches and barbecues, will be served from 5 to 8 p.m.

Julie Teslow and Toni Sikkink will be doing massages on the community center grounds from 5 to 8 p.m. and Dacias' On Main stylists will be doing haircuts, including Locks for Love donations, from 5 to 8 p.m. as well.

The silent auction opens at 5 p.m. and continues until 10 p.m. Walk the halls of the community center to see the numerous items that have been donated for the event.

Programs

At 6:15 that evening, the first lap of the Relay for Life will celebrate all those in the area who have survived cancer. Team recognition and photos will also be done at this time.

At 6:45, Dr. Svetimor Markovic, a melanoma research oncologist, from the Mayo Clinic will speak.

He will be followed by The Pumper, The Peddler and The Politician, playing from 7 to 8 p.m. The musical group plays classic rock and roll, tunes from the '50s, '60s and '70s. They also play soft rock and a lot of songs that allow for the integration of three-part harmonies. Their playlist includes songs from the Beatles, The Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, Herman's Hermits, The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly.

The Pumper is Rick Kritzer from Waseca, a bulk fuel delivery man. The Peddler is Marty Buum from Waseca, a sales representative for an electrical business and The Politician is Tim Penny, once of Waseca and now from Owatonna, a retired politician.

At 8 p.m. there will be a brief program to send balloons to heaven. Individuals can purchase balloons, filled with helium, for $4 each or 3 for $10. The balloons can be decorated with markers and special messages can be written on the balloons for loved ones who have died. The balloons will be sold beginning after the survivor's tea until 8 p.m. when all the balloons will be released and sent skyward together. This is an impressive site and tribute to all those who have died.

Food sales and individual fundraisers at team campsites will also begin at this time. This will be followed by the live auction at 8:15.

At 8:45 p.m. the luminaria will be lit and the walking will continue through the path around the community center grounds.

At 9:30 p.m. the tribute video for survivors and caregivers will be played.

Heads or tails?

The ever-popular Heads or Tails game will be held at 10:30 p.m. for the chance to win a chair donated by Drury's of Fountain.

Each participating individual can purchase a strand of beads from Relay team members on the day of the event at the registration table. The price is $5 per strand and each person can buy up to four strands only.

Everyone who is playing the game will need to gather near the main stage with their strands on to show they are ready to play. When it is time to begin, each person will need to guess the outcome of the first coin toss. When directed, they will place their hands on their head if they think it will be heads or both hands on their "tail" if they think the toss will end up tails.

The players matching the coin toss will remain in the game, but those who made the wrong choice, and were only wearing one strand of beads, must leave the playing area. They are now out of the game.

However, if the player had more than one strand of beads and guessed wrong, they must remove one strand and can remain in the game as long as they have at least one strand of beads left.

The coin tosses will continue until the last person standing, with a string of beads, will win the chair!

Continuing on into the night

The excitement continues into the late night as Karaoke Joe provides musical entertainment from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. There will be Zumba from 1 to 2 a.m. and Bingo from 2 to 4 a.m.

Closing ceremonies will be held at 4 a.m. followed by a finale breakfast of pancakes and sausages in the cafeteria.

Next meeting

With the Relay for Life approaching so quickly, there is one last meeting before the actual event. "Bank Night" will be held on Monday, July 8, starting at 5 p.m. Teams can come and go and the chairmen will stay as late as they are needed.

Captains or team members are invited to come to the Relay for Life room in the community center and turn in donations, silent and live auction items, luminaria and other items. The participants can also pick up their T-shirts and get campsite assignments.

"We would really appreciate it if you can turn in as much as possible this night," Sikkink concluded.

Even if one is not on a Relay for Life team, all the events held on July 12 and into the early morning hours of July 13 are open to the public. Community members are invited and encouraged to participate in this wonderful celebration and fundraiser.