The Bright Spot

The Bright Spot
June 14, 2023





I titled this week’s column Father’s Day, anticipating that the words would flow in an ode to the men who strive to be positive influences in the lives of their children, wives and others – even those who bear no common family link. And then I began to write, was interrupted and closed the document. When I returned to complete the column early this morning, I discovered that my subconscious mind had taken the text on an entirely different track. So, while I wish all who qualify a very happy Father’s Day, apparently, it’s not this week’s bright spot.    
Like many of you, I was among the area residents who basked in the nearly perfect weather that accompanied the 26th annual cancer walk in Milbank on Friday evening. Although I’ve walked as a team member only one year, I have attended more years than not as a reporter/photographer, logging many steps as I work my way around the track, across the infield, traverse to the stage, the picnic and the various campsites. 
Over the course of the cancer walk’s history in this community, there have been years when the weather became the headline for the event as cold, rain, wind and National Weather Service warnings have impacted the comfort and safety of the participants and the spectators. But not this year. This year, the sunny skies, light breezes and lack of pesky bugs allow the weather to slide into the background. 
The continued success of the It Only Takes a Spark Cancer Walk is awe-inspiring. Despite having fewer teams in the past two years than in many of the earlier years, the fundraising efforts have paid off in record or near-record generation of donations. This year $231,760+! How this community, time and time again, digs deep to help others is amazing … the cancer walk is just one example. 
But the cancer walk is not simply about money. As I walk the grounds of Lake Farley Park each year on the evening of the second Friday in June, I’m struck by the bonds that tie the team members together. There’s such a sense of camaraderie among those in various teams and their campsites emit an air of a family reunion. 
At least one of the teams has been a fixture in the cancer walk since its inception. Sponsored by Whetstone Insurance and St. William’s Care Center, these team members choose a new name and theme each year – for 26 years. They work and plan, and their campsite is the largest at the event, including a loafing area (I borrowed that term from the dairy farmers), a food stand, a lighted arch spanning the walking path, a photo backdrop and an area with kids activities. A campsite like that doesn’t just “pop up” half an hour before the public starts to arrive. This takes a lot of cooperation, planning and work!
Some teams have business sponsorships, and others seem to be a bunch of people with nothing in common, but in each case, they work together to help other people from their home region. One corporately-sponsored team has members who have moved on to other employment but remain active forces on the team. 
Periodically, new teams come on the scene or old teams that had dropped away are reinvented. This year, United Hardware was not able to commit a team to the cancer walk, but among the employees came up with a sizable donation and a promise that the actual team would be back in the mix next year.
I overheard bits and pieces of conversations as I worked the event, taking hundreds of photos for this week’s edition of the Grant County Review. Someone explained that each team has its own “thing,” as in, this team sells pizza, that team sells donuts, and so forth, and while in the past, they competed for prizes issued to the teams that raise the most money, they’ve always shared the common goal. 
A relatively “young” team, newer to the event than the others, is the Second Chances team, sponsored by The Pump 2.0. This year, this team brought in a new attraction by adding bingo with some big ticket prizes. While it’s reassuring to know some of what you’ll find when attending the cancer walk, the innovative ideas that are cropping up keep the event fresh for the public. 
It can be hazardous to spotlight some teams and not others, but this column isn’t a news story. It’s a simple reflection, and these are the impressions I had as I worked the cancer walk on Friday evening. 
There’s a depth and breadth of commitment among the people of this community as they strive to continue traditions that work while looking for new ways to help each other. They are all on the same side, working together to assist those who need help – and that’s the bright spot. 


Grant County Review

Grant County Review
P.O. Box 390
Milbank, SD 57252
(605) 432-4516

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