Relay For Life Teams Rallying Help For Cancer Research Friday

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Payson resident Al Ayers beat cancer in 1985. He gained health, and debt the treatments cost him $56,000.

"The expense to cancer patients and their families is incredible," Ayers said. "That's why we have to raise money."

Ayers and hundreds of other American Cancer Society supporters will raise money and celebrate life Friday, June 1 with team relays around the track at Rumsey Park during Payson's annual Relay for Life event.

Teams of eight to 15 people from local corporations, civic groups, schools and families will take turns walking the track while others participate in activities designed to raise research money and public awareness.

Members of the 18 participating teams have gathered donations for two months, said Karolyn Switzer, Rim Area Relay for Life committee secretary and team member. They also have sold luminarias, which will be lit all the way around the track after the sun goes down Friday.

"They really look beautiful," Switzer said. "Last year, we had more than 1,500 luminarias."

A bagpiper will play as the names of cancer patients who have lost their battles are read. It can be a very emotional time for some people, Ayers said.

"It's not really emotional for me though," he said. "Because I got out of this (cancer) completely. My cancer is gone, but we'll have some people there, sitting on the sidelines, who are dying. They're terminal."

While certain parts of the overnight event are somber, participants will still have a lot of fun, said Ginger Jeffers, event accountant.

"We socialize as we walk," she said. "There's so much camaraderie. You meet people you would never meet otherwise. It's so much fun. One guy played golf all the way around the track last year."

Cancer survivors will start the relay by walking the first lap together. Then the teams take over, and the light-hearted activities will begin.

There will be carnival games, face-painting and music from the band, "Trouble in Paradise" from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Speakers will talk about the latest developments in the fight against cancer, and there will be lots to eat, Jeffers said.

"We have all different kinds of food anything you could want, really," she said, "Mexican food, hot dogs, pizza."

The event is an all-night camp-out from 5:15 p.m. Friday, to 6 a.m. Saturday.

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