Relay for Life honors Sobiech

Annual cancer fundraiser walks on Friday night, Saturday morning at SAHS

Cancer survivors finish the opening “survivor’s lap” at last year’s Relay for Life at SAHS Pony Stadium. This year’s relay opens at 6 p.m. Friday and finishes at noon Saturday. (Gazette file photo)

Cancer survivors finish the opening “survivor’s lap” at last year’s Relay for Life at SAHS Pony Stadium. This year’s relay opens at 6 p.m. Friday and finishes at noon Saturday. (Gazette file photo)

Zach Sobiech, the Stillwater Area High School senior who touched millions with his song, “Clouds,” before losing his fight against osteosarcoma in May, will be in the hearts and on the minds of hundreds of St. Croix Valley residents walking in this year’s Relay for Life.

Sobiech will be honored at the relay that begins 6 p.m. Friday at SAHS Pony Stadium in Oak Park Heights and concludes at noon Saturday.

Relay organizer Lois Raboin with United Way of Washington County-East said 37 teams are registered to walk in the relay.

“It’s up from last year,” she said about the number of participants. “We probably have 575 participants. Each team is supposed to have up to 15 (members), but we have two teams with a ton of people on them.”

Raboin said Zach Sobiech’s family is scheduled to participate in the relay’s 10 p.m. Friday luminaria ceremony, a tribute to the Sobiech family. There will also be a screening of “My Last Days — Zach Sobiech” at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Raboin said relay organizers are trying to honor Zach Sobiech and his family in a general, but respectful way.

“Zach has his own foundation for the type of cancer he had. We don’t want to feed off that,” she said.

The relay begins Friday evening with an opening prayer by the Rev. Michael Miller of St. Michael’s Catholic Church of Stillwater, caregiver recognition and the cancer survivor lap before teams take the stadium track.

This year’s relay includes theme laps; yard games of bean bags, Swedish horseshoes, water balloon toss, bocce ball and croquet; dance party; movies “The Wizard of Oz,” “Pitch Perfect” and “Tangled;” talent show; frozen t-shirt contest; “Locks of Love” haircuts, and a Mr./Mrs. Relay for Life pageant.

In addition to activities, the relay also features a “Why I Relay” whiteboard for participants to tell organizers their reasons to relay from 3 to 10 p.m. Friday.
And if relay participants experience stiff or sore muscles, massage therapists will be at the stadium from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday offering massages. The relay ends at noon Saturday with a closing ceremony and prayer by Miller.

This year’s relay will be held in near perfect weather. Friday night will see partly cloudy skies and light winds with overnight lows in the middle 50s. Saturday will be sunny and mild with a high in the middle 70s.

Last year’s relay was cut short when a severe thunderstorm moved through early Saturday morning, overturning tents and causing minor damage. Raboin said in the event of inclement weather, relay participants are moved into the high school.

Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

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