MARSHALL — Severe weather forecasts for Thursday led to a change in plans, but that didn’t stop Lyon County’s annual Relay For Life event. Instead of congregating at Independence Park, locals headed to the National Guard armory.
“We were lucky to have a secondary place” said Relay For Life committee member Chanda Bossuyt.
Bossuyt said organizers called for the event to be moved indoors earlier in the day as they prepared to set up the stage.
“We didn’t want the scene to move” she says.
The notice was short, but Bossuyt said radio and social media helped spread awareness of the venue change.
Inside the Armory gymnasium, local residents walked along rows of luminaries installed in honor of loved ones who have fought cancer and tasted the chili that entered this year’s kitchen . Most importantly, they came together to share stories and gather support for those affected by cancer.
“You don’t really feel what this support is doing until you walk through it,” said Michael Weiss.
He spoke about his cancer journey at the Relay event, as this year’s honorary survivor.
Weiss is a fourth-grade teacher and hockey coach at Marshall Public Schools. Weiss was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in June 2020. At the same time, Michael and his wife Cassi learned that they were expecting their son.
Weiss has undergone six cycles of chemotherapy and has been in remission since November 2020.
“The chemo was tough” he said.
Due to the COVID pandemic, he could only have one person with him in the hospital. Cassi was a major source of support, he said.
“She was by my side every day” he said.
Weiss said one of the big things he learned from his experiences was how important it was to be able to accept help.
“I learned that you really have a community of people who will stand by you,” Weiss said.
His support groups included his family, close friends, colleagues, the local hockey community and medical providers.
Over the past two years, Weiss has offered support to others struggling with cancer. He works with an organization called Minnesota Hockey Fights Cancer, and reaches out to local churches and individuals.
While Weiss shared the perspective of a cancer survivor, members of Jerry Sanow’s family shared their experiences as caregivers to someone with cancer. Sanow, a Marshall resident, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017. He died in 2020.
Jerry’s wife, Kim, spoke about the importance of faith to the family during Jerry’s battle with cancer.
“The prayers were huge for us. There were so many people praying,” she says.
Kim Sanow said Jerry tried to stay positive even though he was battling cancer.
“He just kept moving forward and living life the best he could,” she says.
He was a good example to follow.
“We encourage everyone: live the life”, Sanow said. “We are here to live. We are here for a purpose. She urged locals to reach out and do something for someone in their hometown.