Rockin’ On The Rez: Relay For Life


Cancer survivors, all wearing purple t-shirts, were joined by family and friends to celebrate life with a survivor walk to open the 9th Annual Relay For Life “Rockin’ On The Rez” held in Mission last week. Photo by Vi Waln.


By Vi Waln

MISSION – Triple digit temperatures didn’t faze Relay For Life goers from enjoying an evening of cancer awareness activities honoring survivors and remembering relatives no longer here.

Originally scheduled for the Todd County High School Track, the Relay For Life event was moved indoors to the Sinte Gleska University Multipurpose building. This was done in consideration for the health of elders, as well as cancer survivors and patients who wanted to participate. The event kicked off with activities aimed at survivors, as well as the brave people fighting a cancer diagnosis.

A cancer survivor is someone who is either free of the disease or currently undergoing treatment. Local cancer survivors, all wearing purple t-shirts, were recognized at a reception. Guest speakers Deb Boyd and Delores Sedlmajer addressed the gathering by offering emotional remarks about their own personal experience with cancer. They joined other cancer survivors in a Celebration of Life walk to officially open the 9th annual event.

Music was provided by M & M Productions of Rosebud, SD. Phyllis White Shield served as the emcee. The American Legion Post 287 presented the colors. Vanessa Sully sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

A prayer song and the Lakota Flag Song were offered by Travis High Pipe and Abeleen Cissy Stone. Butch Artichoker offered a healing song and a prayer. Tanya Keitlow, American Cancer Society Relay For Life Specialist, also offered remarks.

Several items were donated for a Silent Auction fundraiser. Along with walking all evening, the members of 8 local teams sponsored activities, like musical chairs, bean bag toss and a ring toss, to entertain the children who attended. Several small prizes were awarded to the participants. Food, drinks, candy and cake were also available.

The participating teams included Team Antoine, Team Heinert, Bet’s Brats, Team Waln, TC Community Club, Deb’s Piggies, Todd County Elementary School Team and Colletta’s Tadpoles. Team members walked the hallways and in the gymnasium non-stop during the 7-hour event.  Many braved the heat and walked outside, putting in their laps by walking around the building.

67 white sacks, sponsored in honor of the the living or in memory of the deceased, were decorated for the Luminaria ceremony held at the end of the Relay For Life event. A collage of photos of local cancer survivors (in the center) was also on display. Photo by Vi Waln.

A highlight of the event was the Luminaria Ceremony. Family members and other supporters had the opportunity to sponsor both a Wheel of Life card or a Luminaria light. This is a way to honor the survivors or to remember relatives who’ve lost their battle with cancer. Wheel of Life names were read aloud. White sacks were decorated by the sponsors in a variety of ways and each one displayed the names of many affected by cancer.

The Luminaria ceremony was held near the end of the evening. A candle-like light was placed in each white sack. The lights were turned off and the names on the 67 sacks were read aloud. It was a very moving ceremony.

This event was organized by the Todd County/Rockin’ On The Rez: Relay For Life Committee. Members include: Billie Artichoker, Maureece Heinert, Whitney Meek, Rose Ruff, Casandra Artichoker, Paulette Emery and Meredith Haukaas. The 2017 Todd County Relay for Life Event will be held on June 10, 2017.


Published by Vi Waln


One thought on “Rockin’ On The Rez: Relay For Life

  1. Vi, thank you for writing such a wonderful article, you captured the evening and event so accurately and with heartfelt compassion. Billie

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S® 6, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

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