“Look at all the purple shirts.”

Those words spoken by Roger Pabst Aug. 2 at the Gilfillan Estate were meant to honor and celebrate the lives of dozens of people who have something in common.

Each one of them is a cancer survivor.

Whether they have been a survivor for a matter of months or for nearly half of a century, each of them was recognized as part of the 2019 Redwood County Relay For Life held to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. 

According to Jane Moody of the Relay For Life committee, as of Aug. 5 $61,540.96 had been raised. That number could increase added Jennifer Evans, American Red Cross senior community development manager, who assists the local committee with coordination of Relay For Life.

According to Evans, the number of luminaries was up about 2,000 this year, adding she believes attendance at the event this past Friday was up, too.

Overall, Evans said she considers the 2019 event a success, adding those involved with planning this year’s Relay For life will hold a wrap-up meeting Aug. 19 at 5:30 p.m. at Pizza Ranch in Redwood Falls. Everyone who would like to share input on the event or who would like to be involved in helping plan for next year is welcome to attend.

Bryant Kaden, who serves as pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Redwood Falls said those who attended the event offer a living hope, adding while there is pain, sadness and grief at an event like Relay For Life, the reason it is held is because of hope and love.

Barb Lewis, honorary chair and cancer survivor, and Teresa Rossow, 2019 caregiver of the year and a cancer survivor, shared their personal experiences of battling cancer and of the value that caregivers play in the life of one who is being treated.

Rossow pointed out that if it had not been for family and friends she is not sure how she and her husband, Tony Rossow, who passed away in 2010, would have gotten through it all.

Lewis also encouraged everyone to talk to their loved ones about doing regular self-examinations and getting in for check-ups.

“No excuses,” she said.

Pabst, who served as the emcee for the ceremony, asked for a moment of silence for those who have been lost, adding words of encouragement for those who are surviving today.

“The day you were diagnosed you became a survivor,” Pabst said.

Overall, Evans said she felt the event was a success and expressed thanks to those who volunteered their time and donated to the cause.

She expressed how impressed she is in the caring and generosity that is demonstrated toward Relay For Life each year by the Redwood area community.