Relay for Life event approaching

CNJ file photo Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser, brought an estimated 3,000 people to Clovis’ opening ceremonies last year at Ned Houk Park.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Relay for Life’s track may be a little darker this year. Each year, the track at Ned Houk Park for the Clovis Relay for Life has been lined with candle-lit luminarias. But with a statewide burn ban and possible rain, it may not be possible this year, according to Rebecca Holt, Relay for Life event chair.

“We won’t know until the night before the relay,” Holt said. “Right now, we’re looking at putting glowsticks into the bags. We still want to light that track. We still want to light the way for them.”

Each luminaria is donated in honor or recognition of someone who is fighting cancer or in memory of someone who has died from cancer. The names will be read as part of the opening ceremonies.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life began in Clovis in 1996 with eight teams walking around the track at Clovis High School’s Leon Williams Stadium. Soon, the local Relay for Life moved to Ned Houk Park. Now in its 13th year, the Clovis relay has expanded to 56 teams, creating the need for the space Ned Houk Park offers.

The money raised from Relay for Life goes to cancer research, patient services and educational material in Curry County communities and throughout New Mexico, according to Holt.

The relay isn’t simply logistics for Holt. She lost both her parents to cancer. Holt’s mother died of a brain tumor when she was 8, and her father died six years ago from lung cancer.

“He was my greatest hero,” Holt said. “It is so important to find a cure to eliminate cancer for our next generation, our children, our grandchildren.”

Three things Relay for Life means to Rebecca Holt:
• Hope
• Honor
• Making the connection — “It’s a connection of support. You learn more about the services from cancer patients and their families. You become a big family. It opens your eyes that cancer is a deadly disease and we want to continue to fight it.”

Fast Facts:

What: American Cancer Society’s Clovis Relay for Life
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday through 10 a.m. Saturday
Where: Ned Houk Park
Who: Anyone can participate at any time.

What: Last day to register a team for Relay for Life
When: Monday at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Master’s Centre, 21st and Prince streets.

By the numbers:
About 1,500 luminarias will line the track
56 teams have signed up for the relay
More than 3,000 people attended last year’s opening ceremonies
382 local cancer survivors have been invited
15.5 hours of walking at Relay for Life
Goal = $100,000
A 9-year-old is the youngest team leader
8 teams for the first Relay for Life in 1996 raised $13,000
1 Relay for Life was hosted in an F-16 hangar due to bad weather in 2001
8 musical guests for entertainment

Entertainment to include:
Dance and Cheer Force
Dance Academy
Andy Mason and the Fun Brothers
Naomi Silva
Ester Ancira
Casey Lovato Band
Miss Relay Competition
Michael Tompson Band
Great House Brothers Band
Cause and Effect Band
Aerobics with Patty Eichenberger

Relay for Life agenda:
5:30 p.m. – Open registration for survivor celebration
6 p.m. – Opening ceremony
6:30 p.m. – Survivors’ lap to open walking
Caregiver lap
Parade of teams
7 p.m. – Kids’ time
7:15 p.m. – Entertainment begins
8:45 p.m. – Luminaria ceremony
7 a.m. – Aerobics
7- 9 a.m. – Sign up for trail ride
9 a.m. – Trail ride begins
10 a.m. – Entertainment ends