Relay celebrates 10 years with Lake Mendota event, July 13

A rainbow appeared as members of the Relay For Life of Upper Illinois Valley Leadership Team, left to right, ACS Partner Michael Shulte, Linda Kofoid, Rita Borelli, Ashley Montgomery, Doug Jackson, Nancy Jackson, Brenda Grobe and Polly Inman, were doing a walkthrough recently at Lake Mendota. Members of the Leadership Team not pictured are Ted Landgraf, Dan Brooks, Sandi Maas, Jesse Arellano, Dess Kiegley and Mitch Landgraf, who commented, “We are hopeful it is a sign that we’ll have both joy, hope, healing and good weather for the event.” (Photo contributed)

MENDOTA - The community is invited to this year’s 10th anniversary Relay For Life of Upper Illinois Valley, which will take place this weekend, July 13-14 at Lake Mendota. The 2019 Relay will be the culmination of nearly a year of planning and fundraising in the fight against cancer.

From its first year at Maple Leaf Park in Earlville to its move to Lake Mendota, as well as several years at Mendota High School, one thing has remained constant for Relay For Life of Upper Illinois Valley (RFLUIV) - the dedication of the northern LaSalle County area, which has generously supported this effort through the years.

This year, in honor of its 10th year, the Relay is returning to Lake Mendota and organizers have been hard at work to make the 2019 Relay a special recognition of its decade of success.

During the first nine years of RFLUIV, community members and area businesses helped raise over $875,000. To help celebrate its first 10 years, a special campaign - The March To A Million - was launched in hope of surpassing $1 million locally in the fight against cancer. To help raise money, fundraisers were held throughout the year and will continue right through the Relay event. In addition, a website was set up ( where people can make a donation, learn more about the Relay, sign up to participate as a team member or start a team, and register as a cancer survivor.

The RFLUIV Leadership Committee explained that when someone is diagnosed with cancer, it impacts everyone – parents, children, siblings, grandparents, neighbors and friends. The American Cancer Society is the largest cancer research funder in LaSalle County and the second-largest funder of research nationally, trailing only the federal government.

Relay For Life is a fundraising effort that each year holds a community event of hope and healing. Funds raised from these events provide free patient support services to local residents and also support research toward cancer’s defeat. To learn more about the many free services offered, visit or call 1-800-227-2345, 24 hours a day, any language.

Relay schedule

On Saturday, July 13, teams are welcome to set up their campsites from noon to 3 p.m. Team registration at the event will begin at 4 p.m. along with the raffles and luminaria sales. So far, 32 teams have signed up and new teams are still welcome to register right up until the day of the Relay. There is no entry fee to participate and there is no minimum amount that teams are required to raise. Golf carts will again be available for transportation to and from parking areas and also around the grounds for anyone with mobility difficulties.

The schedule for this year’s Relay begins with the free survivor dinner, which will take place from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on July 13 at the Mendota Civic Center. Each survivor attending the dinner is welcome to bring a guest; sign-in will begin at 4:15 p.m.

The Food Court will feature two new vendors, Diaz Tacos and Passini’s Woodfire Pizza, at this year’s Relay. They will serve their specialties from 5-8 p.m. Several new activities will also kick off at 5 p.m. including Country Lane Carriage Rides, face painting, a photo booth and a bounce house. Be sure to also check out the raffle items, which will include Cubs tickets, a sofa from Meyers, a grill, pet baskets and many other items. Everyone is welcome to bring the family and take part in all the fun activities.

The Relay’s opening ceremony will get started at 6 p.m. with the Presentation of Colors by Mendota VFW 4079 and Cub Scout Pack 4108. The National Anthem will be performed by the Mendota High School Madrigal Singers and the invocation will be led by Rev. Susan Presley. The welcome will be given by the Relay For Life of Upper Illinois Valley Leadership Committee and the survivor speaker will be Dan Brooks.

Following the opening ceremony, the Survivors’ Lap will be the first to walk the track. For the next lap, the survivors will be joined by their supporters for the Caregiver Lap. The third lap will be the Team Lap.  

At 7 p.m., two special activities are planned, a Butterfly Release and a Frozen T-Shirt 10th Anniversary Challenge. Then at 8 p.m., the ever-popular Dessert Walk will be held.

One of the highlights of the evening will be the Luminaria Ceremony, which will take place at 9 p.m. Luminarias are available to purchase online prior to the Relay for $10 each. They may also be purchased at the event. An Honored Caregiver Presentation will be given by Betsy Westrick. “Amazing Grace” will be performed by Mark Dudek Bagpipes and following the Luminaria Walk, there will be a performance by Carley Baudino.

Numerous fun events have been planned throughout the overnight hours for all the night owls. They include Bark Like A Chicken, Bingo Lap, KUBB, Alligator Wrestling, Dance Off, Bad Dad Joke Contest, and then Crow Like A Rooster at 5:30 a.m.

At 6 a.m., all Relay participants will be asked to join the human HOPE formation in center field for a flyover picture at 6:10 a.m.

The RFLUIV committee encourages everyone to come to Lake Mendota on Saturday and enjoy this fun, family event and help support the fight against cancer.


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