Relay for Life begins

HOUGHTON – Cold and rain wasn’t going to keep Gerri Nelson away from this year’s Copper Country Relay for Life.

The annual 24-hour walk, part of the American Cancer Society’s fundraiser for cancer research kicked off Friday at the Houghton High School track. Participants walk, or in some cases run, around the track to raise money.

Nelson’s been coming to the Copper Country Relay since it began. She was motivated by her dad and grandmother, both of whom were diagnosed with cancer, as well as her work at Keweenaw Home Nursing and Hospice.

“It’s touched everybody,” Nelson said. “If you don’t have someone in your family, you’re pretty rare. But neighbors, friends, relatives … you’ve got to love, respect, honor.”

Those around the track could support the cause by donating to activities such as hair-braiding or facepainting or by buying hot dogs, sandwiches and tacos. Kids also had several games to try their hands at, whether shooting pucks at a Dr. Seuss-inspired target or playing on a mini-golf course.

“I love that they have the games and activities,” Nelson said. “Otherwise it would be kind of boring for the little ones.”

Sarah Peryam of Hancock was pulling her son Greyson, 2, around the track in a Radio Flyer wagon. She’s been coming since she was part of Calumet High School’s team. More than a decade later, she’s working for Portage Health, which has a team of its own.

The community support is something she likes, although she singled out the Survivor’s Lap as a favorite.

“Just to see all the people who have conquered the disease,” she said.

Last year’s Relay raised about $75,000 for cancer research. This year’s goal is $100,000.

The Relay continues until 1 p.m. today.