◊photo/ Terri House
Relay for Life
June 19 and 20
“Celebrating Twenty Five Years of Hope” is this year’s theme for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, to be held June 19 and 20 in Pagosa Springs at the track at Golden Peaks Stadium, adjacent to the high school.

Relay for Life is an overnight community event where individuals and teams camp out and take turns walking around a track, relay-style, from 6 p.m. on Friday night to 8 a.m. Saturday, all in an effort to raise funds to fight cancer. The family-oriented event gives participants the opportunity to enjoy community camaraderie and raises funds to support the work of the American Cancer Society.

In recognition of the fact that cancer does not sleep, teams typically numbering between eight and 15 people “relay” throughout the overnight event, with at least one member per team walking at all times. Former and current cancer patients, their friends and families, businesses, civic organizations, church groups and the general public are encouraged to form teams and participate.

The atmosphere is one of celebration, beginning with a Cancer Survivor’s Lap to honor the courage of all who have defeated cancer. Each survivor is introduced, and then all walk the opening lap as a symbolic gesture of hope to those still battling cancer or those who will be touched by cancer in the future. At nightfall, participants light luminaria around the track to honor cancer survivors as well as friends and family members who have lost the battle.

All cancer survivors are invited to walk the first lap of the Pagosa Springs event to celebrate their victory over cancer. The theme of hope shines brightly during this emotional lap. There is no cost to participate and each survivor will receive a free T-shirt to wear while walking the lap.

“Relay for Life is as much an awareness-raiser about the progress against cancer as it is a fund-raiser,” said Dori Blauert, event chairperson. “Many of the participants will be people who have been cured of cancer themselves. Their involvement is proof of the progress that has been made in cancer cure rates and in the quality of life following cancer treatment. These survivors have given me hope. This year I will Relay for my husband, Bob, who was diagnosed with cancer this past year. I know personally,” Dori went on to say, “that because of these fund-raising efforts, there have been new ways developed for early detection. There are new treatments available as a result of our fund-raising efforts. Relay for Life has touched our lives. Won’t you all join us this year ’Celebrating 25 Years of Hope?’”

Individuals or organizations can make contributions in memory of those who have lost their fight with cancer and in honor of those who have survived. Each will be recognized by a lighted luminaria displayed at the Relay for Life event.

Relay for Life is the national signature event of the American Cancer Society and much more than a fund-raiser. In the last 22 years, the event has spread to more than 4,700 communities in the United States and to more than 22 foreign countries. It celebrates survivors, funds research and cancer education, inspires the public to become involved in the American Cancer Society’s advocacy efforts, and makes important services possible for patients and their families. The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, savings lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.

While individuals and teams raise much of the funds in advance of the actual Relay for Life event, there are games and activities planned all night long that will be fun not only for relay participants, but also for those who wish to join in the event for only that evening — including our welcome visitors to Pagosa Country. So, put on your outfit that best demonstrates your favorite time of the past 25 years, and join the Relay for Life teams on June 19 and 20.

Each of us has been touched in some way by cancer: a parent, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend or neighbor has had cancer. Some of us have heard those frightening words said by the doctor, “You have cancer.”

However, today, because of the fund-raising efforts of Relay for Life, we have hope and know that we can face it and walk through it.

Grab your friends, your fellow employees, family members, your HOA, your employer — everyone you come in contact with — and encourage them to get a team together to relay against cancer this year.

For more information about the Relay for Life event, call Dori Blauert at 731-9458.