Relay For Life Part Party, Part Walking Meditation

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The annual Relay for Life event takes hold of participants -- of your senses, of your emotions, of your thoughts.

It is a laughter-filled social event and a walking meditation.

For 12 hours, from sunset to sunrise, people walk the circle of the Payson High School track in an effort to raise money for cancer research.

Cancer is the disease of our age. It seems in this time that each of us is simply waiting our turn when the doctor calls us into the office after a series of routine tests and utters those three resounding words, "You have cancer."

And if you are one of the lucky ones who never hear those words, then it will undoubtedly be your mother, your daughter, your son, your husband who hears them.

Cancer is a rippling wave that no dam can stop.

Instead, we walk.

The Payson relay begins at 6 p.m. June 1 and will continue until 6 a.m. June 2.

On the night of the Relay for Life event, survivors walk next to the friends and families of those who did not survive.

At 9 p.m., more than 1,000 luminaries are placed along the walkway -- lit and bearing the names of someone who has dealt with cancer.

In those moments of silence after the candles are lit, the glow of all those hundreds of luminaries touches everyone there to witness it.

But just when the pain of thinking about cancer and all the lives it has destroyed seems like it is too much, the music comes on and a celebration of life begins in earnest.

Last year, 22 teams with 512 participants, more than 100 of whom were cancer survivors, participated in Payson's Relay for Life.

Every one of those people left the event exhausted from hours of walking, but refreshed from the conversations had during that time on the track.

Since the rule of the event is that your team must be represented on the track, relay fashion, for an entire 12 hours, it is a great chance to be outside, awake to watch the sun rise. When was the last time you did that?

We encourage anyone reading this editorial to seek out a team to join or, if you are unable to walk for hours, seek out someone who is looking for pledges and donate whatever you can. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

If you are teamless, the Payson Roundup has a relay team this year and would welcome anyone who wants to join. Call editor Autumn Phillips at 474-5251 ext. 115 or e-mail editor@payson.com to get a pledge packet.

Or, to form your own team, call Team Chair DJ Craig at (928) 468-1482.

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