Seven-year-old Annika Belshaw, right, sets up luminaries with Steamboat Springs resident Sarah Peed on Friday during the Relay For Life event in Steamboat.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Seven-year-old Annika Belshaw, right, sets up luminaries with Steamboat Springs resident Sarah Peed on Friday during the Relay For Life event in Steamboat.

550 walk in Relay For Life, raising more than $165K Friday night

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Relay for Life

The Relay For Life of Steamboat Springs wrapped up Saturday morning.

The Relay For Life of Steamboat Springs wrapped up Saturday morning.

Top fundraisers

Steamboat Relay For Life

- Team: Focus Adventures, $15,479

- Team online: Bones, $11,285

- Individual: Bill McKelvie, $3,555

- Individual online: Phil Bronsdon, $2,970

- Youth: Jordyn Hetrick, $1,058

Total money raised: $165,385.43

22 people in Relay raised more than $1,000 each.

13 people raised more than $1,000 online each.

— Bracelets and mint water were keys to fundraising success for 9-year-old Jordyn Hetrick.

Jordyn raised more money than any other youth for Steamboat Springs' American Cancer Society Relay For Life. She brought in $1,058 by e-mailing people, asking for donations, and selling mint water and jewelry in her driveway.

Bringing in that much dough was tough, Jordyn said at the closing ceremony for Relay For Life on Saturday morning.

"Sitting outside was hard because it was hot, and nobody was out," she said.

But raise the money she did. Jordyn has walked in three Relays now to support her father, Scott, a Steamboat Springs firefighter and cancer survivor. Scott Hetrick, his wife, Laura, and Jordyn were among about 550 people who walked in this year's Relay on Friday night and Saturday morning.

Scott Hetrick said he thought it was important to teach children such as his daughter about helping others.

"It's touched us," he said about cancer. "It's touched her, and I think it's important to know there's a way to help, and it's a great avenue to beat this once and for all."

Participants at Steamboat's fourth annual Relay raised $165,385.43 to help find a cure for cancer. That's about $40,000 less than last year, when the event raised $205,700, finance co-chairman Marvin Lindsey said. The 2007 Relay raised $192,000.

"It's been a tough year everywhere, so we're really pleased with it," Lindsey said.

Event co-chairwoman Linda Jackson said most people who helped in the past helped again, even if they had to cut back their contributions.

Organizers registered slightly fewer teams but almost as many participants, team development coordinator Kassandra Collins said. She noted that her co-coordinator, Maria Kaminski, was unable to attend because she was with her father in Florida, who has lung cancer.

Becky Bergeron was among the walkers at Relay, which went from 6 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday at the Steamboat Springs High School track. Bergeron ticked her laps on her arm. Four horizontal hashes with a vertical line through them signified four laps, or one mile.

She had 144 hashes and 36 vertical lines - 36 miles.

Bergeron took a 30-minute break after every seven miles. She participated in the Relay with the Steamboat Christian Center team and has done triathlons to support the American Heart Association. Bergeron has lost family members to cancer, and she lost her father to a heart attack.

She said she likes challenging her body for good causes.

"It felt good being out there in the middle of the night at 4 in the morning when there's not very many people on the track," Bergeron said.

Cancer survivor Laura Ansberry spent hours on the track, as well. Ansberry finished chemotherapy for melanoma a month ago. She said she loved watching people come together and share positive energy.

Cancer has changed her life for the better, Ansberry said.

"It makes you look at life a little different," she said. "It opens your mind. Cancer is what you make it. I don't know how to explain it. It's brought a lot of good things into my life."

Now, every day is a good day for Ansberry. For that, she thanks her doctors at Yampa Valley Medical Center - as well as the nurses.

"I call them my angels," Ansberry said.

Breast cancer survivor Anna Fang and her husband, Jim Crawford, were on the track together. The couple lives in Boston but has a summer home in Steamboat.

"I think it's important that everyone who has cancer realizes they're not alone," Crawford said. "And this provides an incredible support system for them."

Like Ansberry, Fang said she was happy to have met amazing people through her cancer. She's lost a lot of friends, too.

"It's great to see the survivors," Fang said, "but I'd like to see more of them."

As 9 a.m. neared, everyone gathered near the stage, attracted by the commanding voice and jokes of disc jockey Kelly Anzalone. Jackson, the event co-chairwoman, listed the winning teams and top fundraisers.

She closed by thanking everyone involved in the 2009 Relay For Life.

"What a community," Jackson said. "What a Relay."

- To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234

or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

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