Fighting Cancer — With Memories And Miles

33 Relay for Life teams raise $42,000-plus to fund research

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Andy Towle/Roundup

The 2009 Relay for Life in Payson had about 33 teams and an estimated 400 people participate in the 12-hour event June 5 and 6. The relay started at 6 p.m., Friday, June 5 on the track at Payson High School and concluded the next morning at 6 a.m. An estimated $42,000 has been collected from the event for American Cancer Society research and programs, with more funds expected to come in over the next several weeks.

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Andy Towle/Roundup

Casey and Austin Stuart join with other participants at the 2009 Relay for Life to hear the national anthem sung by 10-year-old Loren Peters.

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Andy Towle/Roundup

Luminarias were placed around the track and lit at 9 p.m., June 5 in a solemn memorial ceremony.

Funds received by Aug. 1, 2009 go toward this year’s tally for the American Cancer Society’s research and special programs, said team coordinator DJ Craig. Anything coming in after Aug. 1 will go toward next year’s total.

The event had 33 teams participating, each with a booth featuring food, games or information.

Among the most popular attractions were the dunk tank and petting zoo. At the dunk tank, local politicians Mayor Kenny Evans and Vice Mayor Ed Blair, radio personalities Suzanne Michaels and Cindy Kofile, and pioneer son Duke Wilbanks took the plunge for those with a good aim. Wilbanks didn’t make it easy, though. Craig said he was throwing water balloons at the competitors trying to put him into the dunk tank.

Members of the 4-H Club in Pine presented the petting zoo, and even let one of the llamas take a walk around the Payson High School track to benefit the ACS.

The evening had two silent auctions, lots of raffles and dancing. Some folks made a night of it, camping on the grounds.

The most touching part of the evening each year is the annual luminaria service, where luminarias bearing the names of those who have lost their battle with cancer are placed all around the track and lit, and then the names are read. Accompanying the service is a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace. “It brought tears to people’s eyes,” Craig said.

Another highlight was when Loren Peters, 10, a student at Julia Randall Elementary School, sang the National Anthem. “Everyone was really impressed by her,” Craig said.

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