For this year’s Chisago County Relay for Life, a mother-daughter tandem, plus a former North Branch police chief, will be honored.

The annual event, which will be held at the Gateway to the North Mall, formerly known as the North Branch Outlet Mall, on Saturday, Aug. 3, traditionally honors survivors of cancer, along with memorializing someone who has recently passed away from cancer.

Mother-daughter survivors

The honorary survivors for this year’s event are Betty Fogel and her daughter, Vickie Duchaine.

At the age of 83, Fogel is still extremely energetic despite being diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. One of her main passions is bowling, where, according to many, “she still can beat anyone on her three bowling teams.”

Fogel is also a very active volunteer. She has given endless hours of personal time to many causes in the county including being on the Tom’s Relay for Life team.

Her daughter, Vickie, has survived three kinds of cancer – breast in 2000, cervical in 2001 and currently is also under treatment for melanoma skin cancer.

Duchaine has always been full of life and still is making lots of exciting plans for the future. She was a volunteer at St. Gregory Catholic Church, Stacy Lions, Cub Scout #141 in North Branch, North Branch Girl Scout Troop leader and for many years worked also on the Tom’s Team in the Chisago County Relay for Life. 

She is truly a walking example of cancer survivorship and an example of what money given to this Relay means on an individual basis.

Chief remembered 

This year’s memorial will be for former North Branch police chief Doug Brown, who died at the age of 83 in April after a six-month battle withcolon cancer. He will be represented at the memorial by members of his family.

Brown was extremely well-known around the area, having begun his police work in St.  Croix Falls, Wis., and was the North Branch Chief of Police from 1983-1996. 

He also served as undersheriff of Chisago County for a period of years. He loved working with youth, especially in the DARE program. 

Doug also served as a North Branch firefighter for over 28 years. Being a firefighter is a high-risk factor for cancer, and the family wants to also encourage any current firefighters to get their yearly physicals to catch cancer early. 

Brown’s cancer was discovered by a colonoscopy in 2018; however, by that time it had already reached Stage IV. 

Because of that, his family wishes to encourage everyone to get colonoscopies as recommended by the American Cancer Society, starting at age 45 or upon advice by family physician.

Event schedule

This year’s Relay for Life will begin with registration at 4 p.m. Opening ceremonies will begin at 5 p.m. A survivor and caregiver reception is also at 5 p.m., where people can get a survivor t-shirt. 

All attending survivors and caregivers will hold their honorary lap at 6:30 p.m., which will be led by Paul Dennison and his bagpipes. 

Luminaria bags decorated in honor of cancer survivors or in memory of those who have died will be lit at 8:30 p.m.

Throughout the duration of the relay, there will be many activities for all including games, food, (walking tacos, baked goods, root beer floats), music and a large silent auction. 

Closing ceremonies are scheduled for 10 p.m.

Relay for Life is a community-based fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. Each year, more than 5,000 events take place in over 20 countries. 

To learn more about Relay for Life or to make a donation, go to or contact Mary Sprecher, 651-494-2445, Look also at of ChisagoMN. Donations will be accepted 30 days following the event.

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