June 21, 2023 at 4:23 p.m.
Volunteer shortage threatens event’s future
Hundreds of walkers circled the Stearns County Fairgrounds track in Sauk Centre June 16, raising just over $50,000 for the American Cancer Society as part of the 26th Relay for Life of Western Stearns County.
Despite surpassing their fundraising goal for another year, co-leads Missy Hornick and Marcy Johnson and committee members Joelle Anderson, Sarah Boser and Amy Lindquist participated in their last Relay for Life as event organizers due to the time commitment. Unless new volunteers fill their shoes, this year’s fundraiser may be the last hosted in Sauk Centre.
ACS Senior Development Manager Sherri Maanum praised the resigning volunteers for their hard work and success during the opening ceremony. She said Hornick and Johnson received the Thunder Rolls award at the ACS statewide volunteer summit in February 2023 for exceeding event expectations despite severe storms during events for two consecutive years.
Maanum called on attendees to consider volunteering to keep the tradition alive in Stearns County. Otherwise, the relay would change locations and merge with an event in a surrounding county.
Amongst the teams to circle the track this year was Karen Rademacher and her friends, who have returned annually to the fundraiser in Sauk Centre for more than two decades. Rademacher, a cancer survivor and team captain of Karen’s Country Friends, said she looks forward to the relay each June and hopes there is a future for the fundraiser in Stearns County.
“We started here in 2000, so this is our 24th year,” Rademacher said. “I have three teammates that have been with me every year; the rest of them have been here pretty much every year.”
Hornick said several potential volunteers expressed interest at the relay, hinting at a possible future for the event she helped lead for the past five years.
“I’m excited for potential new leadership and will certainly help them through the process,” Hornick said. “Maybe they can revamp the event to increase participation. If nobody steps up to lead next year, there will no longer be an event in Sauk Centre. We are seeing this in communities across the U.S.; families are busy and don’t always have time to do volunteer work.”