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Relay for Life picks up new leadership

Dawn Michelsen has never been to a Relay for Life event, but that didn't stop her from stepping up to help chair Rosemount's annual June event.

Michelsen will join Jenna and Joan O'Rourke as this years Relay for Life chairs.

It's a big job but Michelsen, a breast cancer survivor, said it's one she's glad to do.

"Chairing is a big opportunity for me to help," said Michelsen.

Michelsen wanted to volunteer as a way to continue battling cancer. Having lost a close friend to lung cancer, Michelsen wanted to support finding a cure for all cancers and Relay for Life provided that opportunity.

While she doesn't know how the event will impact her, Michelsen said she's sure it will be a positive experience.

"Even if I only do it for one year, at least I did something," said Michelsen.

So, how did Michelsen end up head of the event? At her first meeting in January the Rosemount volunteer group needed a new chair, as former chair Nancy Kelly had stepped down.

While her knowledge of the event is limited, Michelsen said she's good at event planning and is willing to do the work. She volunteered to help Jenna and Joan. Jenna and Joan have been involved with the event for several years.

Jenna, a senior at Rosemount High School, said will head off to college in the fall and felt like this was her opportunity to lead the event. She brought her mom on board to help.

The three have set out to bring new life to the event. While always successful, the event has seen declining numbers of walkers and fundraising the last few years. Jenna said they hope to change that trend.

"We have a really strong committee and we're hoping for a big turn out," she said.

As the former Miss Teen Minnesota Jenna, whose platform was cancer awareness, has attended a number of other relays and hopes to incorporate some new ideas into Rosemount's.

Things are already looking up from where they were last year. So far nine teams have signed up to walk already which is more than last year.

The committee held a kickoff event March 12 at The Pond, which Michelsen said was successful. She said they hope to get more people involved and are asking hockey teams to sign up to walk the relay and challenge each other.

This year's Rosemount Relay for Life will be held 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. June 24 and 25 at Irish Stadium.

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Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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