The 20th annual Relay For Life of the Northwoods is scheduled for this Saturday, May 18, with a goal of raising $42,000 for the Amer­ican Cancer Society and its research and education programs.

Besides a new and earlier date for this year’s event, it will be staged for the first time at the World Championship Snowmobile Derby Complex and Expo Center. And there’s more on the “new” list: a fully staffed bar, more food choices and an indoor Artisan Market.

Raising that kind of money in the fight against cancer is extremely significant, for it is research that leads to lifesaving breakthroughs in the detection and treatment of a disease that affects virtually everyone today, directly or indirectly.

But beyond that, we would argue that the Relay For Life event serves an even greater purpose. We are asking more people to attend the event this year to show community support for the honorary caregiver, the honorary survivor and the more than 100 cancer survivors who will take a victory lap around the famed Derby track Saturday afternoon.

The applause that echoes around the complex at the public announcement of each participating cancer survivor is vital to those individuals and families who stand on the front line in the battle against cancer. It’s all about community. Won’t you add your hands, and your generosity, to the cause?

Just as cancer affects people of all ages, the Relay For Life is a family event where everyone can be involved. Besides walking for pledges and support of the cause, the vigil includes an opening ceremony at 4 p.m., live music by Parker Siems, a glow-stick light show, the parade of teams, a children’s bounce house and a luminaria ceremony.

Relay For Life of the Northwoods is more than a fundraiser. It is a significant event in the lives of many who have faced cancer as a survivor or caregiver. It can serve as a memorial celebration. It is one way a community can directly support those individuals who are most affected by this devastating disease.

Marathon boosts spring

The 23rd annual Journeys Marathon attracted 592 runners/walkers last Saturday from 14 states, including Wisconsin, providing an enormous tourism boost during a shoulder season in this highly seasonal economy.

Congrats to the coordinating Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, to sponsoring businesses and to the 300 community-minded volunteers who made it happen.

Though rapid expansion of the number of certified regional marathons has lowered participant numbers in recent years, along with late springs for training purposes, this is still a huge community event by comparison. Participant numbers were slightly ahead of last year.

We especially want to recognize Dean Juntunen of Mass City, Mich., who has competed in the Journeys Marathon wheelchair division all 23 years on his MCrank.

The core group of volunteers who made the event possible deserve community praise.

Behind the editorial ‘we’

  Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Michelle Drew.