Participants in Friday's Steele County Relay for Life dealt with near record dew points, leaving them hot, sweaty, uncomfortable, and a bit irritable. Runners for Saturday's Daikin Dash battled a wind-driven rain that felt like needles at times.

Each seems like a small price to pay to raise money in the fight against cancer to benefit those who have bigger hurdles than a little heat and rain. Hundreds gathered Friday at the Steele County Fairgrounds for the 26th annual relay. Opening ceremonies were held inside the Radel Pavilion to get away from the sun. The humidity was far more difficult to escape.

A pair of cancer survivors including the 2019 Honorary Chair Tom Johnson shared their story. Rick Jeddeloh with the American Cancer Society spoke of the successes being made in the battle against cancer. A silent auction was held. Entertainment for the walkers included the Stix of Fury from Blooming Prairie and the Jill Hoggard Academy of Dance.

Jeddeloh explained the Relay for Life started with one doctor running around a track for 24 straight hours in Tacoma, Washington in 1985. He said most of the money raised goes to research, about 80-percent of donations. Jeddeloh said the American Cancer Society is funding more than 400-million dollars worth of grants for research in the fight against cancer this year.

He gave this example of the progress being made, "Relay started in 1985. There were four-million survivors in the U.S. 2019 there are 16 million survivors in the U.S. And in 2040, it's estimated, 27 million survivors. The cancer death rate is continuing to go down."

Maggie Dixon was first diagnosed with cancer in 1993. She told the story on how the disease has affected her and her family. Cancer has recurred for her, including the discovery of kidney cancer this year. She said, "The good news is I have made it 26 years and much of it was due to research like Rick told you, early detection, good surgery and excellent health care."

Tom Johnson spoke of his diagnosis and the support he received in his journey. He said he reached out to a church youth group he volunteers with and the response was overwhelming, "I told them about my diagnosis. They're all very supportive and said they'd be praying for of the guys comes up with a serious looking face and he says, 'You can get this right? You're gonna be OK,' I said 'yes' and we hugged. I also got a text from another youth leader later that night that said, 'Hey Tom, just wanted you to know I've been praying for you. You are in my prayers every night. If there is anyway at all I can help you, please please let me know. Stay strong and kick this cancer's butt!!!"

Johnson received positive news from his doctor in late May via a phone call, "Good evening, Tom. Ready for some good news? No cancer showed up in my scan. My plan going forward is to have blood work in September and a CT scan in six months."

Both Dixon and Johnson see the same oncologist and both stressed how much their faith has played a role in their journeys. Humor also played a part for each while dealing with treatment.

Humidity wasn't the issue Saturday during the 5th annual Daikin Dash 5K walk/run. Rain early in the morning halted during the time runners assembled outside the Radel Pavilion, but resumed as they galloped around the first turn and intensified behind strong wind. A special thanks to Owatonna Police officers and the local biking club that assisted the run. Volunteers manned a water stop, but Mother Nature took care of post runners' need for that.


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