Like a vehicle driving through Princeton’s roundabout, Relay for Life participants went around and around on Friday, Aug. 2.
For nearly 12 hours, the Relay participants walked the Princeton High School track — while raising more than $30,000 for cancer research along the way.
With donations still being counted as of Monday night, the Mille Lacs County Relay for Life recorded $30,615 raised by 15 teams comprised of 163 people, according to local Relay co-chairman Jim Laskowski. Laskowski estimated donations would probably hit $36,000 before all monies were counted.
There were many inspirational stories circling the track Friday night, including one centered on Laskowski’s own granddaughter. In addition to being the event co-chair, Laskowski captained Tori’s Treasures.
Tori, now 14, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was just 4 years old. That was back on Jan. 17, 2004.
Tori suffered flu-like symptoms and had fevers in excess of 105 degrees. She went to the doctor, where blood work determined that Tori was more sick than met the eye.
She was admitted to the hospital, and after six months of intense treatment, her cancer went into remission.
And while Tori’s cancer is gone, it has not been forgotten by the young teen.
“It will always mean something to me that I’m a cancer survivor,” Tori said.
Laskowski works at ShopKo, which was a sponsor of Tori’s Treasures. He remembers the day his granddaughter was diagnosed with leukemia.
“It was five days after my wife had a massive heart attack,” Laskowski recalled.
When Tori lost her hair due to chemotherapy, Laskowski was there to shave his head to support his granddaughter.
But it’s not only because of Tori’s bout with cancer that Laskowski is a staunch Relay supporter.
“My mom, grandfather and aunt all had cancer. All three passed away because of it,” Laskowski said.
Directly across the field from the campsite of Tori’s Treasures was the tent of the Bost Bunch.
There, the children and grandchildren of Hank and Joyce Bost were busy hanging ribbons on a piece of wire that hung across the length of their tent.
Members of the Bost Bunch sold ribbons for $1 each. When a member of the team completed a lap around the Princeton High School track, a ribbon was hung on the wire. About 200 ribbons were sold, said team member Jess Bost.
Bost said that after Joyce Bost was diagnosed with cancer, it became her mission to walk in the local Relay for Life.
But Joyce Bost died in November 2012 and never got that chance. Joyce’s husband, Hank Bost, died two months later in January 2013. While he, too, had cancer, he basically died of a broken heart after the passing of his wife, Jess Bost said.
The Bost Bunch was honoring Joyce and Hank by participating in Relay for Life. Had Joyce been alive, there is no doubt among her family members that she would have been walking around the track last Friday night.
“That’s why we’re doing it,” Bost said.
James Walburg, pastor of Faith Community Lutheran Church in Zimmerman, who gave the invocation during opening ceremonies, had his own cancer story, as did Princeton Mayor Paul Whitcomb, the master of ceremonies for the event.
“A year ago, I had surgery for cancer,” Walburg said.
“Two weeks ago, I had a check-up and am still cancer free,” Walburg said.
The news drew a roar of support from the cancer survivors, friends and family members sitting in the stadium bleachers.
Whitcomb, who noted he was on the City Council for 14 years and now serves as mayor, said his mother had cancer, as did four of the six boys in his family.
“Cancer touches everyone,” Whitcomb said.
That was certainly the case among the 163 people gathered on the Princeton High School track Friday night.