Relay For Life struggles with participation in local communities

Dodge County Relay For Life struggles with participation.
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:40 PM CDT
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KASSON, Minn. (KTTC) – Every summer, cancer survivors and their families come together for Relay For Life. But in our region, some local communities are struggling to continue putting on the event.

Friday, the Rice County Relay for Life is hosting its last walk due to lack of participants.

The Dodge County Relay For Life is facing similar challenges. Several years ago, there were 35 to 40 teams who participated in the walk. This year, there’s a little more than 10.

Ever since it started, the Dodge County Relay For Life or Dodge County Stroll has raised more than $3 million for the American Cancer Society.

“It’s a very solid organization here and it’s been going 30 years strong,” Dodge County Relay For Life chair and cancer survivor Lisa Rollins said.

But the event is at risk of ending due to a lack of participation and volunteers.

“Our community seems to keep shrinking. It would be really nice if we could get younger people wanting to participate,” she said.

Organizers say the last two years were difficult because of the pandemic, but this year, there seems to be a new problem.

“Each year it seems like we have a different thing to battle. Now this year, it seems to be road construction all over town. So, it’s like, ‘Come on now.’ But we find a way to get around it,” she said.

And while organizers can put up as many signs as they’d like, there still isn’t enough people showing up.

“We really still need to make that fight. We need new community members with new ideas, younger ideas,” Rollins said.

Megan Rink, a freshman at Byron, is one of the youngest volunteers. For her, it’s a family tradition.

“My mom has done it for 12 years. That’s the main reason why I’ve done it. She brings me along whenever she needs help,” she said.

Megan shared some reasons why she thinks the younger generation may not want to volunteer their time.

“I think the younger kids, they sometimes don’t want to or it’s too hot or they’re unmotivated or just don’t feel like doing it or they aren’t informed as well,” she said.

For some volunteers, talking and connecting with cancer survivors and their families keeps them coming back every year.

“It’s very inspiring. Just seeing that power that they’ve brought for others that are fighting cancer. It’s so amazing to see that,” Megan said.

The event continues into Friday night with with a silent auction, live music and of course the luminary walk to honor those who have been impacted by cancer and some who have passed away from the disease. The event goes on until midnight. To donate to the Dodge County Stroll, click here.

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