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Food and entertainment will be available starting at 5 p.m. Saturday at Lake Mendota before the 6 p.m. opening ceremonies for the Relay for Life of the Upper Illinois Valley. Miller Group Charitable Trust is the presenting sponsor for this year’s Relay.

MENDOTA — “No one should suffer,” said Dan Brooks of La Salle as he prepares for the Relay for Life of the Upper Illinois Valley at Lake Mendota Saturday.

He was first diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and after plotting a course of treatment with his doctor, he then learned it can be difficult to get transportation to cancer treatment appointments.

“You’re so discombobulated, anxious and full of fear,” he recalls from the day he was first diagnosed.

That’s when he went to the American Cancer Society website and learned about the Road to Recovery program that recruits volunteers to provide transportation to patients.

“I’ve been given a gift,” he said. “I’ve been alive for four years and it’s a gift. Now I have a responsibility to give back.”

Since signing on as a volunteer, Brooks said he has driven more than 8,000 miles with 19 survivors. In that time, he also has lost four patients to cancer. During those rides to treatment in the suburbs and other locations, he said he gets to know the patients.

“Cancer isn’t like getting a cold,” he said. That means numerous trips for chemotherapy or radiation. And those trips are often repeated over weeks, months and even years.

Miller Group Charitable Trust is the presenting sponsor of this year’s event.

“When Mitch Landgraf approached Cathy and me regarding a one-time gift to help them reach the million dollar mark, and he presented the many ways local people were helped by their organization, we were pleased to sign on to be this year’s presenting sponsor. We wish them all the best in reaching their goal,” said Joyce McCullough, advisor to the Miller Group Charitable Trust.

Relay for Life is a chance to bring awareness of services like free transportation to other patients and survivors. Brooks said transportation is many times the only thing standing between a patient and treatment. Events like Relay for Life helps spread awareness of those services to more people while offering support to family members and survivors.

This year also marks a special anniversary for RFLUIV. It’s the 10th anniversary and supporters are rallying to raise $1 million by the time the survivors take their first lap after the 6 p.m. opening ceremonies.

Why March to a Million? As the special website, 1mil.org states: “Marching to $1 million for 1 million reasons.”

Teams and individuals are invited to begin setting up campsites at noon with registration opening at 4 p.m. followed by the survivor dinner at 4:30 p.m. at the Mendota Civic Center.

Food and entertainment will be available beginning at 5 p.m. followed by the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.

A variety of team events will continue throughout the evening and into the next morning until the Relay ends at 6 a.m. Sunday.

While relay teams will be set up and fundraising at their sites, a variety of other events and entertainment will be open to the general public.

There is no need to register to participate.

This year’s Relay will mark 10 years of celebrating, remembering and, most importantly, fighting back.

Tamara Abbey can be reached by calling or texting (815) 539-5200 or mendota@newstrib.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_Mendota.

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