MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Sauk Rapids couple chose an unusual way to remember a friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer.
Lindsay Szymanski chose teal as the color for her bridesmaids’ dresses and groomsmens’ neckties. The color represents ovarian cancer awareness.
“Kelly would have been in our wedding, so it was a big deal for us to incorporate her throughout the day, not just like at one point,” she said.
There are two love stories wrapped in this wedding. Kelly Laas was Szymanski’s best friend, and a close friend of her now-husband, Ryan. They all met St. Cloud State. But before they graduated, ovarian cancer took Laas’ life.
“To see something that scary happen to someone so young … Ever since then, we’ve done the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Walk,” Szymanski said.
The couple was able to make a donation to the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance in Kelly’s memory last year, thanks to cash they collected during the dollar dance at their wedding reception.
“At the dollar dance itself we raised almost $900,” Szymanski said. “I was so flabbergasted. I mean, friends and family are great, so there’s nothing we can say, but people were giving $100 bills and fifties, and it was just unbelievable.”
Laas was on the St. Cloud State softball team. She collided with another player during a game her junior year. A trip to the doctor to look at bumps and bruises revealed signs of ovarian cancer.
“Everyone loved her on the team. She was the center of the team,” Szymanski said. “I mean, she laughed, [it] made everyone laugh around her.”
Laas went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but within a year, she died at the age of 22.
“They call it the silent killer for a reason. Nobody knows it’s coming, nobody knows what’s going to happen,” she said. “And it’s just so scary, and I think people need to start doing, I think raising awareness, and people need to start getting checked … it’s such a big thing.”
Laas died in 2011. Not only do the Szymanskis take part in MOCA’s annual fund-raising walk, they also volunteer at the annual gala in their friend’s memory.