A fitting honor: Relay for Life honors physician who started walk

A young boy rides on his father’s shoulders during the 2011 Relay for Life at Stillwater Area High School Pony Stadium. The annual fundraiser and cancer awareness event is Friday and Saturday at Pony Stadium and will honor Dr. Gordy Klatt, the former Stillwater physician who started the relay and recently underwent cancer surgery.

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Call it a twist of fate.

The physician who started the Relay of Life of Stillwater will be honored at this year’s 18th annual event as he recovers from recent surgery of stomach cancer.

Relay organizers plan a tribute to former Stillwater resident Dr. Gordy Klatt, who started Relay for Life locally and underwent successful surgery last week for his stomach cancer.

Relay organizer Lois Raboin said more than 50 teams are expected to walk the Pony Stadium track at Stillwater Area High School beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday and continuing until 6 p.m. Saturday.

“We have 53 teams. Teams range anywhere from 10 to 15 people,” she said.

Raboin added that new faces are joining many familiar teams at this year’s relay.

“We have some new teams,” she said. “We also have teams that have been there the whole time.”

The relay begins with an opening ceremony featuring speakers Ashley Umbreit and Dr. Candy Corey from the Stillwater Medical Group. The survivors’ lap is 6 p.m., with other walkers joining in after that first lap.

The raffle drawing for a car donated by Stillwater Motor Co. is 9:55 p.m., followed by the 10 p.m. luminaria lighting ceremony featuring guest speakers Sue Baldwin and Nicole Anderson.

The relay continues Saturday with numerous events for young and old, Raboin said. Among them are message therapists available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., “Locks of Love” haircuts at 1 p.m. and root beer floats at 2 p.m. Last lap is 5:45 p.m. followed by closing ceremony, awards presentation and benediction by Lakeview Hospital Chaplain Bob Furniss.

Among Saturday’s events is a special couch on which participants can sit and talk about why they are walking, Raboin said.

“We have a purple couch and we videotape why you relay,” she said.

And Raboin said there would be plenty of water available for relay walkers.

“Culligan donates our water and we go through a lot of it,” she said.