Relay for Life a great summer experience

The word “Hope” is spelled out in luminary bags at Dickinson’s Relay for Life.

One of my favorite summer events in Dickinson is the Stark County Relay For Life, which was held Friday night and Saturday morning at the Dickinson High School practice field.

Like so many people in our community, I have several family members and friends who have fought cancer. Most have survived but others — including my aunt and two of my greatest mentors in writing — succumbed to the disease.

I have been attending these fundraising events since my mom, Kitty, became involved.She has served as a team captain and is on the survivor committee, which she chaired for two years.

She is a breast cancer survivor who was first diagnosed in July 1999. She was declared cancer free in the spring of 2000 after what was a very long fall and winter for my family.

Since the Stark County Relay For Life began, we have been involved. And while I didn’t know this when I met her, my fiancee’s family also makes a point to be involved with the event in their hometown in Montana. So we make sure never to miss it.

As the sun set and we walked around the track, I was asked to help light candles inside luminaria bags, the signature of Relay For Life. Despite being at several Relay For Life’s here in Dickinson, I had never done this before.

For those of you who don’t know, the bags are decorated and dedicated to loved ones who have battled cancer and are then placed around the track with sand and candles inside of them before being lit at dusk.

Here’s me lighting a few luminary bags.

I made sure to find one of the bags purchased by my mom to light first. It was in memory of our family members we had lost. The names on it were my aunt Marlene, my great uncle John and my maternal grandfather, Archie, who I never knew because he died of leukemia about a decade before I was born.

Those who have done this before know it is a sad, yet uplifting experience.

I hope that everyone who has been affected by cancer in any way, shape or form attends or gets involved with Relay For Life at least once.

It truly is a great experience.

<b>Press reporters talk Bakken on Prairie Public radio</b>

On Thursday, I was one of three people from The Dickinson Press who sat down with Prairie Public radio’s Doug Hamilton — who happens to be one of my old college teachers — for a pair of interviews about what it is like to not only work for a newspaper during an oil boom, but how we go about covering it and how life has changed in the area.

Doug lives on the east side of the state and admitted he hadn’t made it to the western edge in several years. He took a route north along Highway 2 between Grand Forks and Williston, where he chatted with Forum News Service Oil Patch reporter Amy Dalrymple before braving his way down Highway 85 to Dickinson.

We shared our stories of change with Doug. Amy spoke about the challenges she faced while moving to Williston. Press energy reporter Bryan Horwath shared his experiences of learning about the boom and the energy industry while reporting on it. Kevin Holten, the manager of The Drill, chatted about what he sees on his long driving journeys throughout the Bakken and the issues he sees. I talked about our area and the changes we have tackled while trying to maintain our way of life while accepting thousands of newcomers.

It is always nice to see someone like Doug come from the eastern side of the state and see exactly how our little corner of the world operates. He, like most, came in educated about the topic but was still shocked at the amount of activity he remembers as sleepy.

You can listen to Doug’s interviews with myself and Horwath, Dalrymple and another interview he did with Holten by visiting

Monke is the managing editor of The Dickinson Press. Email him at or tweet him at monkebusiness.

Author: Dustin Monke

Former newspaper editor. Now I market the best baked goods and donuts in America. But every once in a while, I write a cool story too.

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