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Hudson comes together for Relay for Life

Survivors start their honorary lap around the band shell during the opening of Relay for Life at Lakefront Park. The event raised more than $35,000. Photo courtesy of Evy Nerbonne1 / 5
Melissa Hardman lights the Flame of Hope in place of survivor Mary Schultz, who was not able to be at Hudson Relay for Life on Friday, June 22. The flame remains lit throughout the night-long event. Photo courtesy of Evy Nerbonne 2 / 5
Honorary co-chair Micki Dierks Thompson tells her story ahead of the Luminaria Ceremony during Relay for Life on Friday, June 22. Thompson is a 17-year cancer survivor. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 5
Lakefront Park is lit up by Luminarias during the annual Relay for Life on Friday, June 22. The American Cancer Society event honors all those affected by cancer. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 5
Honorary co-chair Meg Heaton speaks about her experience with cancer during the opening ceremony for Relay For Life. The annual event was held at Lakefront Park. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia5 / 5

Hudson celebrated its last Relay for Life in the city before the event will join with New Richmond for a county-wide relay next year.

Next year the event will be known as the St. Croix County Relay for Life and held June 7-8 at St. Croix Central High School in Hammond.

This year survivors, caretakers and supporters all gathered once again at Lakefront Park for the annual event on Friday, June 22. Together they raised nearly $36,000, according to the Relay for Life website.

Meg Heaton kicked off the relay as honorary co-chair. A long-time Hudson resident and former Star-Observer reporter, Heaton is no stranger to the Relay for Life event. She volunteered with the first relay in 2000, and continued to serve for close to 10 years. In 2010, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

As honorary chair for the second time, Heaton spoke of her experience with cancer, and the support she received from family, friends, coworkers and strangers.

"Cancer is a part of my life now, and by extension my family and my friends," Heaton said. "The truth is cancer is a part of all of our lives and that is why we are here tonight."

Survivors present joined together for their solo lap around the bandshell, before being joined by caretakers and the rest of the participants.

As the sun set, the luminaria lining the path glowed with the names of those lost, those still fighting and messages of hope and love.

Honorary co-chair Micki Dierks Thompson opened the luminaria ceremony. She first became involved with Relay for Life 22 years ago for her mother and grandmother, before being diagnosed herself with cancer in 2000.

Thompson's cancer was detected early, which she says saved her life and gave her an experience different from some.

"Everybody has their own journey through this and all of us are in disbelief at first. We hear those words, 'You have cancer,' and we wonder what our future holds or even if we have one," she said.

"But it doesn't matter how we survive it, it matters that we do."

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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