Kelsie Queil wasn’t sure what to expect when she attended her first Relay for Life event in Crow Wing County.
In fact, she was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be something she wanted to do. But her best friend’s 3-year-old son had been diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a baseball and she wanted to show support.
“By the end of the night, I was just awe-struck,” Queil said.
She was overwhelmed by the number of people going through cancer. There were cancers she’d never heard of before. She said she learned so much. And she was hooked.
Now Queil, 33, Aitkin, is the team development chair for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Crow Wing County.
Relay for Life is from noon to midnight July 21 at Don Adamson Field by the Brainerd High School. On Monday, people who may want to learn more about volunteer opportunities, or just more about the event, may attend a community open house from 5-7 p.m. at Lord of Life Church in Baxter.
“This year is Crow Wing County’s 20th annual Relay for Life,” said Sue Tiegs, American Cancer Society community relations staff partner. “In addition to starting a team, we have a lot of other volunteer opportunities.”
This year’s Relay for Life will focus on 20 years of hope and acknowledging past honorees, Tiegs said.
Queil has been a team captain for the last couple of years. It’s an event that her two young children enjoy attending, as well.
“It’s just been a great experience,” Queil said. “It’s just a family fun day.”
The difficult economy has also affected the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life’s fundraising, Queil said, as fewer teams participated and fewer people were motivated to be involved. But Queil said all are welcome at the Relay for Life event. People don’t have to organize a team or raise a minimum amount. Every penny counts, Queil said.
Last year, the event moved from an overnight Relay for Life to start at noon and end at midnight in an effort to get more participation and make it easier for families to take part.
“We’d really like to get more of the youth involved as well,” Queil said. “We have been working on getting involved in outreach to church youth groups and some schools.”
The American Cancer Society reports more than 3.5 million Relay for Life supporters will take part in events this summer, including 38,000 Minnesotans. The event celebrates cancer survivors and remembers those who lost their battles with luminary bags. The event actually began in Tacoma, Wash. as a 24-hour run against cancer.
There are activities and games as well. But the event is in need of volunteers to help put up tables and chairs and take them down. Volunteer assist with education and with games and entertainment. There is no charge to attend.
Queil said they are also looking for sponsors and donations that may be used for prizes, but mostly they need able-bodied people who are willing to help.
Queil said if people are on the fence, have thought about it but never ventured to the athletic field to see the event, they should just stop by to see it.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Queil said. “That’s what I did. By the time I left that night it was an amazing experience. It’s not something you go to and at the end of the night say ‘I wish I would have gone and done something else.’ We really encourage people to stop out and see what we are going to do.”