On August 2, 1996, the first Cancer Walk was started in Mitchell, SD. It was under the sanction of the American Cancer Society and was called the Relay for Life. The first event was held at Joe Quintal Field, and we made about $15,000. We had five corporate sponsors: Mitchell Exchange Club, Trail King Trailers, CorTrust Bank, Commercial Bank, and Fulton State Bank. Our first Honorary Chairperson was Maggie Moran Nelson. There were 60 teams participating.
The second Relay for Life was held in 1997. That year the event raised $22,000. The walk was held at the Mitchell Middle School. Following this event, the committee was faced with having the event overnight as the American Cancer Society requested. They were revamping the process. The committee felt that the residential community around the Mitchell Middle School and/or at Joe Quintal Field would be unhappy with an overnight event, so it was decided to have our own walk. It was called Heart and Sole Cancer Walk.
The first Heart and Sole Cancer walk was held in 1998. As the walk grew and started earning up to $40,000, a co-committee was formed named the Mitchell Area Cancer Assistance Board (MACA). This board was formed to distribute the money to cancer survivors in the Mitchell Area. Checks in excess of $600,000 have been sent to patients since we started in 1998. Our first priority has been to help those with cancer. We are very proud to have helped to this extent.
In 2002, a 5K run was added to the event. A 10K and 1.5 mile fun run/walk was added to the 5K run in 2003. This event continues to draw more and more participants. It is so heartwarming to see people of all ages running in the heat of summer to help their neighbors and friends.
To date, the event raises close to $50,000 to $60,000 a year for cancer patients. We are proud to have over 20 corporate sponsors, multiple individual business and personal supporters, and close to 100 teams consisting of 10 or more members participating each year. We also have countless numbers of people that stop in to share part of the evening with us. We appreciate each and every one of you!
The annual walks are great fun with our honorary chairpersons leading the survivor lap. It is a night filled with music, laughter, socializing with family and friends, and various entertainment. Games are available for our youngest walkers. It is a night to share with loved ones, a night to remember those that have passed, and a night to rejoice with those that continue their battle and are here to remind us to live each moment to its fullest. The focus of the evening is the luminary ceremony. It is truly a beautiful thing to see so many people quietly walking as the luminaries glow around the track. If you have not been able to join us for this event, you are missing much and we invite you to join us this year. It is such an honor to have our loved ones remembered in such a wonderful manner.
The committee feels honored to be involved with a project of love. The support of all the people from so many communities is something that our survivors need and appreciate. Most of our supplies and needs are met through donations of various businesses and individuals. We can't thank you enough! We couldn't do it without the benevolent giving of so many, many people!!