Beth Tudahl and Jim Stennes of Rushford receive the 2016 Relay for Life Per Capita Award for Fillmore County. 
SUBMITTED PHOTO Beth Tudahl and Jim Stennes of Rushford receive the 2016 Relay for Life Per Capita Award for Fillmore County. 
Fillmore County has reached the goal but is still sprinting toward the finish line: No cancer…not one cell.

The 2016 Fillmore County Relay for Life, held for the second year in Chatfield, garnered enough money to place the county in the running once again for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Minnesota Relay Per Capita Award.

“We were notified about being in the top ten at the end of Relay season, which is the end of August when all the money is counted, and in 2016, Fillmore County raised $128,000,” said Rushford resident Jim Stennes.

Stennes and fellow Up All Night team member Beth Tudahl are now the co-organizers of the 2017 Relay, which will be held in Rushford, July 28 and 29, at the historic Rushford depot. Both were proud to be able to receive the Relay award for the county.

“The award was received by myself and co-chair Beth Tudahl at the 2017 Minnesota Relay for Life Leadership Conference in Brooklyn Park on Jan. 28,” Stennes said. “Fillmore County is one of the oldest traditional Relays in Minnesota, with a strong support from the community and strong community spirit. Our size was taken into account – we were ranked in counties with populations between 20,000 and 24,999 – and we always rank near the top in Minnesota. It was exciting to see so many other events in Minnesota get national recognition also in other population categories, and being surrounded by so many other people with the same passion for finding a cure for cancer.”

He elaborated, “The county should know that this is their award and should be proud that they came together to fight cancer at the local level, and also nationally and globally. American Cancer Society researchers funded by your dollars are so optimistic that we are that much closer to a cure. Your dollars have helped fund 38 Nobel Prize winners.”

Tudahl and Stennes are pleased to be the co-chairs of this year’s Fillmore County ACS Relay.

Stennes stated, “The organizers for the Rushford Relay are myself, Jim Stennes and Beth Tudahl. We have been involved with Relay for Life since 2004, when the two of us and a couple others started a team. We are both with the team Up All Night. It’s a little scary and overwhelming, maybe, to take over the Relay from Chatfield – seeing how well the Chatfield chairs and committee did. I just hope we can fill their big shoes.”

He and Tudahl have plans that might be a very good start on shoe-filling.

He related, “What I am excited for Rushford hosting is we are making some changes this year. First, we are shortening the event…instead of going from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. with a breakfast at the end, we are ending at 2 a.m. with a midnight meal and then bingo. We are also taking a break from selling food and other things at each team campsite, hoping more people will take part in all the different ceremonies and activities, especially the live auction…there will be a purple tractor up for auction. We are also planning on a lot of live music all night long, and maybe some themed laps to keep many on the path.”

“Our goal for this year is $130,000,” he concluded. “We want people to know the night of the Relay is a fun and emotional night of remembering, celebrating and fighting for a cure.”