Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Moose Lake ready to Relay

Relay For Life set for September 6 at Moose Lake City Park


Jeanne and Gordon Beck have been busy with preparations for this weekend's Relay For Life to be held in Moose Lake Saturday, September 6 at Moose Lake City Park. A spaghetti dinner will be held from 4-6 p.m. with the Relay being held from 6-10 p.m. Gordon is a cancer survivor, identified during the Relay by his purple shirt, and has been instrumental in ensuring the Relay is held in Moose Lake another year.

The Southern Carlton County Relay For Life almost didn't happen this year. Changes at the local office of the American Cancer Society and former volunteers stepping down meant it was down to just a handful of organizers.

But the Relay For Life will add one more year to its list of successful fundraisers on Saturday, September 6 from 4-10 p.m. at Moose Lake City Park.

"We have raised over $400,000 over the past 12 years," said Gordon Beck, who has taken on the responsibility of organizing this year's event. Gordon's wife, Jeanne, and Eleanor Eskuri are the two mainstays who are helping him plan this year's relay events.

The Relay For Life is no longer held in many other communities.

"They don't have relays in Cloquet or on the Iron Range anymore," said Gordon. "People come now from the Cloquet/Carlton area to participate in our relay."

The office of the American Cancer Society in Duluth was closed, due to the downturn in the economy. Staff members now work out of their homes. One of the staff people had been away due to medical issues, and other staff members are new. A former organizer is no longer with the society.

Those are some of the changes that have affected relays in the area, Gordon said.

In the past few years, the relay held in Moose Lake was set for the second weekend in July, and another was held the end of June.

"People are so busy with the Fourth and other summer events that we didn't get as good of a response," Gordon said. "This year, we moved the date for the relay back to September.

"Things are falling into place this year. We are getting a lot of responses. We have asked for funds from the Sturgeon Lake Lions Club and Mercy Hospital, and both have donated generously. Members of the Lions Club go to Hope Lutheran Church and they have asked for donations from the congregation and presented a donation. That's been great."

Gordon added that, although there are no longer the large number of teams raising funds for the relay, the teams that are fundraising this year are working hard.

"The Sonshine Walkers raised quite a bit of money in four hours by bagging groceries," Gordon said. "The Hope Floats team is helping keep the relay alive, too."

The Star-Gazette's team is NEWS Kids on the Block, and luminaries are being sold at the office, as well as sno-cones on Fridays to raise funds for the relay.

That support is spurring Gordon, Jeanne and Eleanor on. The support and their hope that a cure for cancer will be found one day keeps them going.

"Any little bit that we do is another step closer to finding a cure," said Gordon. "Our son has skin cancer. I can't see not doing something about it."

This year's event will begin with a spaghetti dinner at 4 p.m. Cancer survivors who register will be given a free T-shirt and their dinners will also be free. Others who come for the dinner will be asked for a suggested donation of $10 each.

Luminary bags with memorials to those who have lost their battles with cancer or to honor those who are still fighting are also being sold. The luminaries will be set up along the walking path in the park differently this year. Instead of sand in the bottom of the luminary bags, people will be asked to bring a donation of a small can of food. The cans will be placed in the bottom of each bag and the candle will be set on top of the can.

"We can help out two organizations that way," Gordy explained. Following the relay, the canned goods will be donated to the local food shelf.

Due to the downsizing of the relay, there will be no honorary survivor or honorary caregiver this year.

"There will be a short ceremony to begin the walk with the survivors and their families," said Gordon. "We aren't going to have a balloon release either, like we have in the past. Helium is very expensive. Jeanne and I organized a relay in Arizona last year. We are going to be doing many of the same things that we did there at this year's relay."

Last year the relay raised $32,000 for the fight against cancer.

"The relay isn't only about raising money, it is about education," said Gordon. "We encourage people to eat healthy and to exercise, along with regular check-ups, as a way to combat the disease."

The American Cancer Society is the organization that did a study and found that women with no sign or any previous case of breast cancer no longer need annual mammograms, Gordon explained. That was one of the benefits to all women over a certain age and the reduction in the cost of medical care that was spurred by the cancer society.

Gordon had his own bout with cancer. He explained that prostate cancer was found, then another type of slow-growing cancer was found in the lymph nodes after he had surgery on his diseased prostate.

Due to a large number of relatives with cancer, many whom died from the disease, Gordon participated in a study with relatives to determine if they had the cancer gene.

He was found to be clear of this gene.

Gordon also said a positive attitude when one is dealing with cancer is vital.

"If people think positive, it makes a big difference," he said. "You need to keep telling yourself, 'I am going to get better,' instead of telling yourself, 'I am going to die.'

"You take a different look at life once you are confronted with cancer. For me, life is a blast, life is a dream. We make plans for our future, but we enjoy and are thankful for each day."

Enjoying more birthdays is another reason to fight against cancer, said Gordon.

"The slogan this year is 'Finish the fight,'" he added.

Gordon and Jeanne are retired and they have sold their farm. They live in a motorhome and spend their summers in Moose Lake and their winters in Arizona.

"We made our plans to retire early, and here we are, enjoying life," said Jeanne.

Enjoying the relay is their goal this year.

"I don't want this to be a job," said Gordon. "I want to make it fun and make it easy. If it works, I'll be there again next year, by golly."

For more information, contact Gordon and Jeanne at or visit and search for Relay For Life of Southern Carlton County.


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