Updated: 07/13/2014 5:55 PM
Created: 07/13/2014 1:32 PM KSTP.com
By: Kate Renner
One of the largest Relay For Life events in the Midwest will have special significance this year. For the next two weeks, organizers in White Bear Lake are preparing for the overnight walk, which starts on July 25.
This year they're celebrating one man who has a special story.
Keith and Patty Warner have walked many laps around the track in White Bear Lake, arm and arm with cancer survivors.
"It's a comfort for them, they see there are a lot of people who survive," Patty Warner said. The Warners started the walk in 1995 for their daughter Lori, who was fighting pancreatic cancer and later passed away.
This year marks Relay for Life's 20th year in White Bear Lake.
"He was looking forward to this 20 year one, but he was diagnosed with brain cancer on the first of September, and he passed away two months later," Patty Warner said about Keith Warner.
Keith Warner had battled and survived many different types of cancer and encouraged others to do the same.
"Of course I hate it (cancer), it has such a profound effect on our family,” Patty Warner said.
"Cancer is weaker because Keith fought it," said Jeff Noren, a volunteer for White Bear Lake Relay For Life.
The American Cancer Society credits this walk with raising $4 million in the past two decades because the Warners "made it happen."
"That was his saying, ‘Make it Happen’ whatever you need, make the ask, be there for somebody," Noren said.
His motto of "Make It Happen," had his name smack dab in the middle: K-E-I-T-H.
"That was kind of our whole thing, how can we now carry on his mission, cause it's ours now to carry on this legacy," Noren said.
"Keith was phenomenal with people, he love people and he could connect with anyone," Patty Warner said.
And for the first time in the walk's history, Keith's memory will burn bright among the luminaries circling the track.
"It's devastating us to be doing the relay without Keith, because Keith is the Relay for Life," said Noren.
The White Bear Lake Relay For Life is on Friday July 25, from 6 p.m. until the following Saturday morning at 6.
It'll happen at White Bear Lake High School South campus. Anyone is invited to participate.