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When hope lights the night

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Relay for Life at Conifer High will fight cancer

By Daniel Laverty

Conifer High School doubles as a community gathering place throughout the year, serving as everything from a wildfire-evacuation center to a slash-collection facility.

On Aug. 23, Conifer High will be a night-long beacon of hope for those fighting cancer and the people who love them.

The 2013 Relay for Life starts at 6 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Conifer High athletic fields.

“The relay lasts all night to show that cancer never sleeps,” said Amanda Doubet, event organizer. “The idea is to have at least one member of your team walking the track at all times.”

Twenty-three teams have signed up and have collectively raised nearly $7,000, Doubet said. Each team is made up of about 10 people.

“The goal is to have each member of your team raise $100,” Doubet said. “People are e-mailing and asking family members, friends and co-workers.”

Money raised is donated to the American Cancer Society, a nonprofit that supports research into the disease and helps its sufferers.

At 9 p.m., the luminaria ceremony will feature dozens of paper bags with electric candles inside. Each luminaria costs $10, and it’s a time to remember those who have died from cancer and those who are still fighting it.

Doubet said attendees are encouraged to bring a canned food item to put inside and weigh down the luminaries. After the ceremony, the canned goods will be collected and donated to a food bank.

“Relay for Life has a circus theme this year,” Doubet said. “We want this to be an inviting and fun event.”

Face painting, carnival games, fitness classes, bingo and a cake walk will be offered. Journey Church will be running kids activities. The Evergreen Snowflake Circus will perform from 6 to 8 p.m., and live music from Stark Raven and .45 Long will be presented from 7 to 10 p.m.

“This event could not happen if not for the volunteers,” Doubet said. “They are the ones doing the hard work. I couldn’t do it on my own.”

Jen Thompson of Pine participated in last year’s Relay for Life and decided to become a volunteer this year.

“The American Cancer Society is an awesome cause,” Thompson said. “Everyone can name someone that has been touched by cancer. We need to continue the fight.”

Thompson has been working with the team of volunteers the past few months to make sure the event runs smoothly.

“It’s been an experience to meet people in the community and hear how cancer has affected their lives,” Thompson said. “It’s been pretty emotional and overwhelming — but also a lot of fun.”

All cancer survivors are invited and will receive a free dinner, T-shirt and special gift, Doubet said. Survivors and caregivers are invited to take a lap around the track at 6:30 p.m.

“A lot of people have the assumption that it’s a race,” Doubet said. “It’s just a walk. Everyone is invited … even if you’re in a wheelchair or can only walk one lap.”

The Relay for Life will conclude at 6:30 a.m. Saturday with a closing ceremony.

“Organizing this event, it’s been very humbling and moving,” Doubet said. “I’ve met so many amazing people that tell me even more amazing stories.

“It’s incredible to see how this community rallies around and raises each other up.”

The Relay for Life returned to the mountain area in 2012 after a hiatus of three years. For more information on the 2013 event or to register a relay team, call Amanda Doubet at 720-524-5409, e-mail Amanda.doubet@cancer.org or visit www.mountainarearelay.com.

Volunteers are still needed to help with event cleanup so the Conifer High band can practice on the field Saturday morning.

Contact Daniel Laverty at Daniel@evergreenco.comor at 303-350-1043. Follow him on Twitter at @LavertyReports.