This year, the Knox County Relay for Life had a fun twist to its normal scheduled events. Organizers called it the Relay for Life Passport Tour.
A charter bus took participants around the county to nine stops where the group got off the bus, explored the town, shopped at local stores, visited local businesses, ate delicious food and more. Relayers received a passport book to get stamped at each stop.
There was much more than great conversation and scenic roads on this bus ride. Tour guides, Matt Fischer and Delores Ruzicka had prize drawings, town trivia, scavenger hunts, statistics and stories. The whole bus even danced and sang to the YMCA.
The bus ventured from Bloomfield to Crofton where the participants ate a free breakfast provided by the historical Argo Hotel. They provided bananas, water, juice and a very colorful bag.
There were all colored bags laid out for relayers to pick from. Each color represented a kind of cancer, pink for breast cancer, dark blue for colon cancer and so on. Inside the bags were intricate muffins with the center dug out and replaced with egg, bacon, sausage and tomato.
Relayers moved on to get their passport stamped at the Lewis and Clark Pulley Museum where there is a collection of around 500 barn pulleys, 300 hay carriers and about 80 hay forks and slings.
Some people even went to Crofton’s thrift store, Main Street Treasure, where some festive hats were purchased by tour guide Delores Ruzicka and relayer Laurie Owens, inspiring the YMCA dance on the bus ride towards Santee.
Next, the bus toted relayers to Santee’s Tatanka Golf Club, where they got their stamp and participated in a Hole-in-One tournament. Relayers got three balls at the driving range and tried to get as close as they could to the hole.
The bus then departed from the Tatanka Golf Club and headed towards Niobrara. Relayers got stamped at Billy May’s LLC and many snooped around the store at the locally handmade crafts.
Tour guide, Matt Fischer decided to play a little photo scavenger hunt in Niobrara. All he gave participants were the clues: what color is Margaret and a bar fit for a super star. Relayers explored the streets of Niobrara in search of answers.
Relayers visited the Niobrara Museum and other businesses as well before heading back to the bus which then head to Verdigre.
As soon as the bus pulled into Verdigre, relayers flooded into the Carousel Thrift Shop to get their stamp. Many stayed to shop around while some went outside to see the Amish farmers market or to get a picture taken in the real phone booth still located there.
A delicious lunch was served at the ZCBJ Hall and relayers enjoyed great conversation with their meals.
The next stop was Center and Rohrer Junk Art was on the agenda. Relayers really enjoyed looking at Jim and Sue Rohrer’s unique junk creations and some even climbed onto the horse and motorcycle sculptures.
Relayers snacked on watermelon before departing for Winnetoon. The bus brought everyone to the Winnetoon Mall to check out the unique buildings and receive their stamp before continuing on to the Winnetoon Park and Community Building for pie and kolaches.
From Winnetoon, the bus headed towards Creighton. Relayers stopped at Janet Frank Quilts for their stamp and got to see all the amazing quilts and other crafts inside. From there the relayers went to St. Ludger Social Hall to play some bingo and eat Berry Peppers.
After bingo, relayers headed to Wausa were they posed in front of the Viking ship and visited with some residents at Countryside Villa, where they got their stamp before heading to Bloomfield.
The traditional ceremony began when the bus returned to Bloomfield. Relayers received their final stamp and went to turn in their full passport books in exchange for raffle tickets.
The Welcome Ceremony started with a heart felt Survivor Lap for all those who have battled and won their fight with cancer. They first announced themselves and stated what type of cancer they had and how long they have been a survivor before joining the other survivors waking the first lap. Caregivers were then welcomed onto the track.
Other activities were going on and music being played while participants were racking up laps. There was a jail cell where anyone could send a friend to jail for $5. There were shirts for sale and food as well.
There was a raffle for the grand prizes which included nine holes for four people at Crofton Lakeview Golf Course, free float for four at Niobrara Adventure, camping gear donated by Knox County Relay Committee, two night stay in Niobrara State Park, and a Traeger Grill donated by Shamrock Nursery.
The auction had a great turn out where many donated goods found new homes and all proceeds went to the American Cancer Society. The ceremony ended with the traditional luminaria ceremony.