Fight back against cancer at June 21 relay

The community will continue its fight against cancer at the annual Anoka Area Relay for Life.

The lighting of the luminaria, scheduled to take place at 9 p.m., pays a touching tribute to those who have lost their battle with cancer along with survivors who continue to fight.
The lighting of the luminaria, scheduled to take place at 9 p.m., pays a touching tribute to those who have lost their battle with cancer along with survivors who continue to fight. File photo

The 12-hour relay will run from 5 p.m. Friday, June 21 to 5 a.m. Saturday, June 22 at the Anoka County Fairgrounds.

For Kim Gust, who co-chairs the event with Janet St. Louis, it is her way of standing up to cancer.

All money raised at the relay is used for cancer research through the American Cancer Society, which celebrates its 100th birthday this year.

“It’s my passion to help fund cancer research and help find a cure,” said Gust, who is in her third year with the relay and second as co-chairperson. “Every year I keep losing members of my family to cancer.”

Currently 24 teams and 227 individuals are registered to participate in the overnight relay. While this year’s participation is down, said Gust, to date those team members have raised nearly $40,000.

The area relay also includes the communities of Andover, Ramsey and Coon Rapids.

The June 21 event includes a survivor’s reception at 5 p.m. followed by opening ceremonies at 6:30 p.m. This year’s honorary chairperson is cancer survivor Renee Miller, who has been a part of the Anoka Area Relay for Life for a decade.

The relay will start first with a survivors’ lap, followed by a special lap honoring caregivers.

What will follow is a night of entertainment and theme laps to keep the walkers going until dawn.

One of the most touching parts of the relay is the lighting of the luminaria, candlelit bags decorated in honor of loved ones who have lost their battle to cancer and those who continue their fight, which takes place at dusk. Those luminaria will light up the track through the night and are available for $10.

The American Heritage Pipe and Drum Band will perform during the lap of remembrance.

New this year are three youth teams – branching off from their adult counterparts, Gust said.

Her own team, Angels of Endurance, has expanded to form a new team, Cherubs of Endurance. These new little members are all children of the original Angels team.

“For me I think the more we educate the youth and the more they know that cancer is a big deal they sooner they can help us fix this,” said Gust.

Other youth teams also include Andre’s Angels and Junior Lifesavers.

Gust’s nine-year-old daughter SheyAnne had a lemonade stand at the family’s garage sale last weekend and raised $35 for her relay team.

Other kids are getting involved doing their own fundraisers.

“The more money we raise for cancer research the better off they will be in the future,” Gust said.


Cancer prevention study

During opening ceremonies, the Anoka Area Relay for Life will also host a speaker on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Prevention Study-3, a grassroots effort where communities can support cancer research by participating in a study with the goal of learning how to prevent cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s epidemiology research program is inviting people between the ages of 30 and 65, who have never had a cancer diagnosis, to join the study. The goal is to enroll at least 300,000 adults from across the U.S. to participate.

While the study lasts 20 years, enrollment includes only two steps. Participants must fill out a comprehensive survey regarding medications, family history of cancer, lifestyle and other behaviors.

At a 20- to 30-minute follow-up appointment, those taking part will be asked to provide a waist circumference measurement and a small blood sample. The enrollment will take place Tuesday, June 25 at Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids from 3:30 to 7 p.m.

Following enrollment, participants will receive surveys every few years to update their information.

Gust said the Anoka Area Relay for Life has the highest number of participants across the state already signed up to take part in the study.

For more information on the Anoka Area Relay for Life, call Gust at 612-237-8219 or email [email protected] You can also still sign up to participate in the relay. to learn more about the cancer prevention study visit or call 1-888-604-5888.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at
[email protected]