The Late Night Side Of Community Spirit

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Once again, residents of Payson and the Rim Country are taking part in the annual Relay for Life -- the American Cancer Society's signature fund-raiser.

Payson's event begins at 6 p.m. Friday, June 1, and concludes at 6 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at the Payson High School track.

It is an exciting community gathering where everyone can participate in the fight against cancer. In more than 4,200 communities across the country, teams camp out at local high schools, parks or fairgrounds to take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to raise funds and to have a representative on the track at all times during the overnight event.

The money raised by the Relay for Life supports cancer research, cancer education and the Cancer Information Center, "I Can Cope" a special educational program for cancer victims, cancer advocacy, "Reach to Recovery" a special program for women who have survived or recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, "Look Good ... Feel Better," a program to assist cancer patients with their appearance during treatment, "Road to Recovery" a transportation program, "Man to Man" for men affected by prostate cancer, "Cancer Survivors Network" to keep cancer survivors and their families connected to their peers and "Hope Lodges," a housing program for patients who must receive treatment far from home.

"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," wrote Roundup editor and Relay for Life veteran Autumn Phillips in the May 11 editorial of the newspaper.

Almost everyone has had the "Big C" touch their lives in one way or another.

The Desert Schools Credit Union Team is remembering a co-worker lost to the disease in this year's walk. Others are remembering friends and family who are fighting the life-threatening illness, as well as those who have died and celebrating the lives of cancer victims who have survived.

The Relay for Life took root 20 years ago. Since then, more than 3 million Americans nationwide have participated in the event.

Last year, the Payson Relay featured 22 teams with 512 participants, more than 100 of whom were cancer survivors.

One of the most moving aspects of every Relay for Life is when everyone pauses while memorial luminarias are lit and there is a moment of silence for all the loved ones who have lost their battles with cancer.

For more information, call DJ Craig, team chairperson, at (928) 468-1482 or Ron Tipps, relay chairperson, at (928) 468-1320.

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