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Dawson County fought back against cancer by raising $50,500 at the 23rd Annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Dawson County at Veterans Memorial Park in Cozad on Friday, June 2nd.
“Relay For Life is about a village that takes up the fight and Dawson County once again proved how to work together for a common goal to beat cancer,” said Cristy Thompson, ACS staff partner in North Platte. “Everyone worked hard all year long to make this event happen. We do it because we have all been touched by cancer.  On behalf of Relay For Life, I’d like to thank all the teams, sponsors, survivors, caregivers, and participants who came together to make this Relay such a success.”
 Nearly 250 people attended the opening ceremony and watched the survivor/caregiver lap that kicked off the evening. Survivors were led by honorary chairpersons Linda Anthony of Lexington and Tara Hieter of Gothenburg. The caregivers were led by honorary chairperson Tim Hansen of Cozad.
This year’s patriotic theme of “We Need You For A Cure” brought a lot of red, white and blue spirit to the event. The weatherman cooperated and the park was in tiptop shape, Thompson added.
Relay For Life is a community event full of great individual ideas, Thompson said. “It is the individual who steps up to the challenge and who volunteers time and energy… that is what makes each Relay extra special. I can’t begin to name everyone who contributed their special touch. It is a rewarding experience to watch things like this happen.”
            Marilyn Hueftle of Lexington was recognized for participating in Relay for 20 years and raising an average of $1000 each year. She also was the top individual fundraiser for the event with a total of $1300 before Relay.
            Chris Barnes of Cozad received a well-deserved Relay Spirit Award for always attending meetings and being the first to raise her hand when someone was needed to take care of yet another detail.
            Pam Ackerman of Lexington received the Purple Passion Award for her participation and love for Relay. This was her 16th Relay event.
            Corporate sponsors topped the charts at $25,277 and the top fundraising team was W.C.S.G. Garden of Hope with an even $10,000.
This year’s teams included Angels Among Us (captain Kim Sutton, Lexington); Dawson County People First (co-captains Christopher Davis, Cozad, and Brenda Ochoa, Lexington); Little Steps of Hope (captain Tara Hieter, Gothenburg); R.S.C.S. (Relatively Speaking Cancer Sucks) (co-captains Chris Barnes and Candi Sartin, both of Cozad); Team Amalia (captain Coco Canas, Cozad); Walking For Will (captain JoAnn Parker, Cozad); Walmart: Team Spark (co-captains Travis Battershaw, Lexington, and Shannon Callahan, Bertrand); W.C.S.G. Garden of Hope (captain Pam Ackerman, Lexington).
A Relay Wrap Up potluck meeting will be Thursday, June 15, at 6 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park. Anyone who wants to be part of planning the next event is encouraged to attend.
            Next year marks 24 years of Relay For Life in Dawson County. Anyone interested in helping on the planning committee or being the event chairperson is encouraged to call Cristy Thompson at 308-530-6002.