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Why I relay: In memory of family members, for those still fighting

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I am the team captain of Hartwig Hero’s, and this is my second year participating in the Relay for Life in Pine River.

I first started the relay mainly in memory of my dad, Dennis Hartwig, whom I lost to Acute Myeloid Leukemia on Dec. 6, 2009. I wanted to do something in honor and memory of him, something he would be very proud of.

When trying to decide a name for my team, I thought that it was only right to name us Hartwig Hero’s because not only is it in memory of my dad, but in memory of my grandma, Leona Hartwig, and my uncle, Harold Hartwig. All three lost their battles with cancer.

Now with this being the second year, I continue to relay in memory of my three family members. But in the past year I have had friends, co-workers and even patients who have been fighting this nasty disease. Every time you turn around someone is affected by cancer in some way or another. I figure this is the least we can do for those fighting the fight.

Cancer takes away people we love and people we care about; it doesn’t care how old or how young we are; it doesn’t care if we had plans for our future, if we have new sons or daughters, nieces or nephews being born or new grandchildren being born.

Cancer has no mercy!

My heroes are in heaven now, but I also have heroes who are still here and doing all they can to fight their cancer and some who have beat it.

This year I have a very special reason to walk. Recently my childhood friend and his wife found out by accident that their 9-year-old boy has cancer. His name is Brady. He has only been diagnosed for a short time but he has been my hero, even though I don’t know Brady as well as I know his parents.

He made me realize how cancer can attack anyone, which made me think, what if this was my 11-year-old daughter? I don’t know what I would do. I can only imagine what Brady’s mom and dad are going through, watching their little boy in pain and not being able to do the things he used to do because of all the chemo he is receiving.

This little boy is a true fighter and he is always in such good spirits. I think he is what keeps his mom and dad from falling apart. He has such a positive attitude. God has been so good to him, guiding him and his family through some rough days. They have a great community and people from all over are pitching in to help them out.

Brady will be our team’s special member this year; we are honoring him, his strength to show to all.

So this year I am relaying for kids like Brady Lind, and people who have been a part of my life in one way or another. I encourage everyone to come out to experience a night of hope, love and even some tears, and let God touch your heart by being a part of this special day.

Nothing can describe the emotions that run over you when all the luminaries are lit up in the dark around the entire track. It’s absolutely breath-taking.

This is why I relay.