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Viewpoint: Woodbury fights against cancer at Relay For Life

It took a few days, but I am finally recovered and rested from this year's Relay For Life, and couldn't be happier with the turnout. Based on the resounding positive feedback we've received, it seems participants, visitors and volunteers feel the same. On behalf of the 2008 planning committee, I sincerely thank everyone who contributed to another successful year.

Our incredible planning committee volunteers overcame some obstacles this year, the main one being the move from Woodbury High School track and field to Ojibway Park and the school bus parking lot.

In addition, concessions fed the crowds out of a cramped Pepsi wagon, the silent auction was a bit of a hike over to the Woodbury Athletic Association building and, oh yes, a gale-force wind had its way with our grounds, tents and equipment just one hour before opening ceremonies.

The camaraderie and cooperation that surfaced among the crowds to put everything back together was truly inspiring and speaks to the very essence of Relay... a community coming together to make a difference.

As a community, we heard Mayor Bill Hargis share his diagnosis of prostate cancer from just the day before.

Never in my years of volunteering for this cause, have I witnessed such courage and command from someone facing this disease -- this demon. Thanks to his vigilance in getting regular screenings, Mayor Hargis explained his prognosis was very good which magnifies the significance of early detection. It is likely his announcement will prompt others to get screened and, quite possibly, save lives.

Since 2004, the Woodbury community has raised more than three quarters of a million dollars through Relay For Life, this year bringing in more than $200,000.

This is an incredible accomplishment with gasoline almost $4 per gallon, a downward economy, natural disasters throughout the Midwest and having some folks who are still unaware of the event.

Relay's fiscal year ends on Aug. 31 and I am confident that by then we will have reached our 2008 goal of $235,000.

Anyone wishing to contribute can still do so by sending donations to the address below or getting in touch with me.

Being part of this event is a most rewarding and humbling endeavor.

There is honor in giving cancer survivors an opportunity to be celebrated by hundreds of cheering participants, heartache in seeing a track aglow with bag after bag of Luminaria "In Memory" and power in friends and family pulling together in heart and hand to raise the critical funds to fight cancer.

If you haven't already, please consider putting together a team for the 2009 Relay or getting involved in some way. The time and effort is worth it.

I would like to extend a sincere thanks to all of the individuals and organizations that helped put Relay together, along with everyone who participated in the 2008 Relay For Life of Woodbury.

Checks made out to ACS can be sent to:

American Cancer Society, c/o Melissa Thone, 2520 Pilot Knob Road, Mendota Heights, MN 55120

Please indicate the Relay For Life of Woodbury.

LaPrairie is co-chair of the Relay For Life of Woodbury with Pam Olson and Michelle Alpers. She can be reached at (651) 730-4349 or