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Published January 10, 2011, 12:00 AM

Cancer survivors pose for Relay for Life calendar

Group hopes to raise $100K
Robert Vivatson never dreamed he’d be modeling for a calendar.

By: Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications Co., INFORUM

Robert Vivatson never dreamed he’d be modeling for a calendar.

Then again, the Cavalier-area farmer couldn’t quite believe, back in 1987, that he’d be diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

So he didn’t hesitate when he was asked this fall to be photographed for a 2011 calendar featuring cancer survivors from northeastern North Dakota.

“I got a phone call,” he said. “How do you say no?”

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life Survivor Calendar is a fundraising project of the Pembina County Relay for Life team. The goal is to raise $100,000. The calendars cost $20 each, so the group must sell at least 5,000.

All cancer survivors – including men, women and youths – featured in the calendar live in Pembina, Cavalier, Grand Forks or Walsh counties.

The Grand Forks Relay for Life will have the calendars available at its 2011 kick-off event at 6 p.m. today at the Clarion Inn in Grand Forks.

The calendar idea was conceived by Dr. K.S. Sumra, a Cavalier physician, and his wife, Inna, a Russian immigrant and owner of Inna Photo, a studio in Cavalier.

The Sumras approached the local Relay for Life team in October.

“We didn’t have a lot of time,” said Brenda Anderson, Pembina County’s Relay for Life team development chairwoman.

So they expanded their horizons, calling on people they knew through Relay for Life in other counties and Altru Health System. Two of the Pembina County relay co-chairs work at Altru Cancer Center in Grand Forks.

That helped organizers find cancer survivors who would be willing to be photographed for the calendar. Vivatson is Mr. September.

They also looked for sponsors. They found 12 – 13, really, because one month features a husband and wife – to contribute either $600 or $750 each to cover costs.

Vivatson Family Farms is the sponsor of February.

The Sumras and the Pembina County volunteers already are planning the 2012 calendar. They want to expand to all of North Dakota, as well as neighboring states, with a goal of $500,000. That’s 25,000 calendars.

They already have a waiting list of cancer survivors who want to take part in the next calendar.

More information

The 2011 American Cancer Society Relay for Life Survivor Calendar is available at:

Kevin Bonham is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald