In the weeks leading up to the 2009 Steamboat Springs Relay For Life, the Steamboat Pilot & Today will profile some of the people who have participated in or been touched by the event.
Stepping up for support
The fourth annual Steamboat Springs Relay For Life starts at 6 p.m. Aug. 7 at Steamboat Springs High School. Participating teams will walk through the night to show their support of the battle against cancer. Registration for the event is open, and donations can be made directly to team members or online at www.steamboatrela.... As of Friday afternoon, 44 teams and 357 participants had raised $56,467.95 for the Steamboat Relay, according to the event Web site.
Steamboat Springs For the past 50 years, the American Cancer Society has conducted long-term cancer prevention studies, tracking participants throughout decades to pick out factors that might cause cancer.
The studies provide a starting point for more in-depth research and give cancer survivors such as Steamboat Springs schoolteacher Kerry Kerrigan hope that as they go on, the studies will help answer questions she's had for much of her life.
"I'm a two-time cancer survivor," Kerrigan said. "I lost my leg to bone cancer when I was 17, and then I had breast cancer at age 31. : I'm one of five kids, and I'm the only one in my family who has cancer, so I think it's important to figure out why some people get cancer and others don't, even when they're exposed to the same environmental factors."
From 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 7, during the third annual Steamboat Springs Relay For Life, Kerrigan will team up with local co-organizer Jodi Bringuel to enroll participants in CPS-3, a new long-term study by the American Cancer Society that during the next 20 to 30 years will track people between ages 30 to 65 who have no personal cancer history.
Participating in the study is one effort to find answers to what contributes to or causes cancer, whether it's diet, elevation, exercise or other behavior and lifestyle factors. To Kerrigan, the study is an easy way for the community at large to become involved and help "get rid of the cancer demon," she said.
How it works
Those who sign up at CPS-3 during the Steamboat Relay will be asked to sign an informed consent form, complete a written survey, get their waist measured and give a small blood sample. A more detailed survey focused on lifestyle, behavioral and other environmental factors will be sent through the mail, with shorter follow-up surveys coming every two years.
With a goal of enrolling 500,000 people of diverse demographics, ACS gave Steamboat organizers an estimate of 224 enrollees; Bringuel said she'd like to see about 200 people sign up. The age range of the study is meant to capture people who will be easier to track during the 20- to 30-year time period.
Steamboat is one of three Colorado communities participating in enrollment this year; study organizers generally look for Relays that have at least 1,000 people registered, according to the ACS Web site. In 2008, the Steamboat Relay brought in more than 600 participants.
"It's an honor that our Relay gets to do the study. : Because we've been so successful in just the three years of Relay here in Steamboat, we were chosen," Kerrigan said. "It means the American Cancer Society has a lot of faith in our community to come out and support this part of it."
Passion for finding a cure
Bringuel has no personal cancer history, but her experience with the disease runs deep.
"I lost my father to cancer when he was 45, and I've lost quite a few other relatives to cancer. So it's something that hits home for me; I've had a lot of experience dealing with it," she said.
Bringuel plans to enroll in the study and feels strongly that environmental factors can affect the occurrence of cancer. She and Kerrigan have been involved with Relay For Life committees since the national fundraiser came to Steamboat Springs for the first time in 2006. Participants in the event will walk around the Steamboat Springs High School track starting at 6 p.m. Aug. 7, through the night into the morning on Aug. 8.
Participants in CPS-3 must sign up in person; the only opportunity to do that in Steamboat will be from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Relay.
"If people didn't have the time commitment to participate in the whole 24 hour commitment of Relay For Life, it's a good way to still support the cause by showing up and giving 30 minutes of their time," Kerrigan said.
Bringuel and Kerrigan are looking for a couple of volunteers to help with the enrollment. Volunteers need to be finalized by the end of the week and must be available from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 7 for the sign-up. The study is not directly tied to Relay; rather, it falls under the same purpose-driven umbrella.
"It's something that is kind of separate from the Relay, but we do it at the Relay because we know that's where to find people who are passionate about finding the cure," Bringuel said.