The 2014 Houston County Relay for Life is about two-and-a-half months away. For the past 20 years, Houston County has been hosting a Relay for Life event. Friends, families, and neighbors gather together as part of a team or individually to walk the path and "earn" their donations. As the sun sets, the path is illuminated by the candlelit luminaria that people have purchased in "honor of" or "in memory of" loved ones. Events like this take place all over the United States each year.

An open house information session will be held on Thursday, May 22, from 5 p.m. through 7 p.m. at the Syttende Mai Hus in Viking Memorial Park. Registered teams can pick up their materials, new teams can register, and people that just want more information are also invited to stop in. Refreshments will be served as well.

"It is hard to believe that we started this event 20 years ago," commented Judy Bratland, Houston County Relay For Life co-chair. "The first relay was here in Spring Grove and we're excited to have it here for our 20th anniversary."

Bratland and her sister, Joycelyn Rostad, have been the co-chairs since the very first Relay. "We have seen it grow and expand since the beginning; that has been very exciting," added Bratland. "We would like to teach others how to run the event so it can continue to have a prosperous future."

The actual event is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 8, at the Fest Building. The committee is working on some special things to help celebrate their 20th year. For more information about the Relay, visit the website, Questions can also be directed to Bratland at (507) 498-5147 or Joycelyn Rostad, (507) 498-5212. The American Cancer Society staff contact is Jessica Hemenway at (608) 783-5001.

In 1985, a doctor in Tacoma, Wash., wanted to raise money for his local chapter of the American Cancer Society. He spent 24 hours circling a track totaling more than 83 miles - the idea of Relay for Life began. His "vision turned into over 5,200 Relay For Life events across the United States today and nearly $5 billion in fundraising to save lives from cancer."

"With your help, we aren't just fighting one type of cancer - we're fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. Each person who shares the Relay experience can take pride in knowing that they are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten the lives of our loved ones or claim another year of anyone's life." (