Record breaking 65 teams sign up for Relay for Life

By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ staff writer

Kay Prater is a statistical rarity: A survivor of two different types of cancer.

That’s one reason why she is serving as one of two co-chairs for the 2004 Relay for Life, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday and run until 10 a.m. Saturday at Ned Houk Park.

“I have a very strong family background (of cancer),” Prater said. “ I have a granddaughter and a daughter who are survivors. I lost a grandmother, a mother, a father-in-law, and I’ve lost aunts and friends and co-workers.”

Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and proceeds are used for cancer research. According to Dorothy Nelson, community development manager for the region, last year’s event raised $77,000.

Prater said organizers are on track this year to raise even more.

“Right now we have 65 teams registered which is an all-time record,” Prater said. “We are working toward building up Relay for Life in this area.”

Most of the 65 teams are from Clovis but 15 are from Cannon Air Force Base, one is from Melrose, and at least three are from Portales, which is not holding a separate event this year. Relay for Life’s main feature is that participants travel by foot along a prepared course for varying periods of time. Different participating teams and individuals raise money in different ways; some ask donors to pledge a set amount of money, others ask for a pledge based on the distance or amount of time walked or run by the participant.

Other means are used to raise money as well, Prater said.

“This year they are selling raffle tickets to pickup to raise money. It think it’s a 1967 Ford F-150 pickup,” Prater said. “There are many, many people in the community who are walking for life and are working to help fine a cure for the disease.”

School nurse Cristina Garcia from Lockwood Elementary said she enjoys participating in the walks.

“I used to be a home health hospice nurse and now am in the schools,” Garcia said. “I met a lot of patients who had cancer. You create the bond with them and that’s why I do it.”

Garcia said she’s been participating for five years and her school team is doing even better this year than last.

“Our goal was $1,000, but we have exceeded our goal already,” Garcia said. “We are already at $1,200 so we are doing pretty well.”