A very long stroll

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Relay for Life participants traverse the track to raise money for cancer research

By Deb Hurley Brobst

For walkers at the Mountain Area Relay for Life on Friday night, walking for 14 hours was about raising money to help fight cancer.

It also was about the symbolism of the darkness people feel when they are diagnosed with cancer and as the sun rises, the lightness they feel as they complete their treatment.

Yet, still, it was about the paperclips.

A tub of pink, green, purple and gray paperclips was stationed on the track at Conifer High School. As walkers completed a lap, they grabbed a paperclip so they could keep track of the number of laps and the number of miles they walked to help wipe out cancer.

This was the third annual Relay for Life in the Evergreen/Conifer area, and though the group was smaller than in past years — about 75 participants — American Cancer Society officials estimate the event raised about $10,000.

Thirteen teams signed up to take turns walking the entire 14 hours, from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. Some pitched tents so they could rest while others walked. One team decided to come to the relay in Conifer because of the beautiful setting.

“Family, friends, co-workers, children, grandparents — we’re all here for the same reason,” said opening ceremony speaker Patty Hasty, “to put an end to cancer.”

Hasty, an American Cancer Society volunteer, said the goal of the people participating in the relay was to put an end to the words “You have cancer,” adding that several cancers have been eradicated.
“I’ll be even happier when the day comes that we don’t have a Relay for Life,” Hasty said, “because that means we will have finished the fight.”

Those participating in the relay who had cancer and cancer survivors, plus their caregivers, were introduced and made the first lap around the track. At dusk, luminaries were placed around the track. People had purchased them to honor cancer survivors and those who died from the disease.

A new team this year was Amy’s Angels, a group of friends and co-workers of Amy Rabbio, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in September. She works at Mount Evans Home Health & Hospice as an executive assistant. Before that, she spent 10 years as a secretary at Bergen Meadow Elementary School.

Rabbio had surgery and five weeks of radiation therapy, and now she is on drugs to help keep the cancer from reoccurring.

“I feel great,” she said as she made her third lap around the track. “When I was diagnosed last September, people came out of the woodwork to help and be my support system.”

Included in Amy’s Angels was Peggy Miller, Bergen Meadow’s principal.

“We decided to do this for Amy,” Miller said. This is Miller’s first year participating in the Relay for Life.

Miller said a Bergen preschool teacher, Terri Hessner, died on May 19 from cancer, so cancer research was on the minds of teachers and staff at Bergen Meadow.

Alyssa Elzinga with Mary Kay Cosmetics sang the national anthem, Boy Scout troop 1776 led the survivor lap, Conifer Jazzercise provided the warm-up, the Bagelry provided a bagel breakfast and Zumba did a cool-down before the closing cermonies.

Dinner was provided by Evergreen’s Da Kind Soups. Chef and Da Kind owner Dustin Speck donated three soups, a sandwich spread and desserts for the cancer survivors.

Da Kind is known for its fund-raisers in the community, and Speck said the Relay for Life was an important cause.

“It’s important to give back,” he said. “If you’re in the position to help, you should help.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.