‘This community just came together’ | SteamboatToday.com

‘This community just came together’

First Craig Relay for Life raises more than $64,000

Jerry Raehal

A walker makes her way around the Moffat County High School track as the sun rises Saturday morning during Craig's first American Cancer Society Relay For Life. More than 480 walkers took part in the 18-hour event to raise funds for cancer research.

— 2 – Days the event spanned

18 – Number of hours with walkers on the track

27 – Number of teams to participate

30 – The most miles walked by one person, David Moore

480 – Estimated number of walkers

1,000 – Estimated number of luminarias to line the track “in memory of” or “in honor” of cancer survivors or victims.

Recommended Stories For You

$64,240.35 – Last number released on how much money was raised.

559,000 – The number of people cancer is expected to kill in 2007

She was, admittedly, a little slap happy.

Staying up the entire night and walking mile after mile around a track can have that effect.

But for Kerry Kelly, it was well worth losing sleep for one night.

It was worth the countless hours of time fundraising spent months before hand, and it was worth the $1,000 of her money she donated.

“It” was for Craig’s first American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Because in the end, she did all of “it” for her late sister, Carma Fenske, who was taken by cancer in 1984, and for those who face similar struggles.

“I think the more they can do on research, the longer my sister could have lived,” said Kelly, a member of the Curvaceous Babes team. “She is with me all the time, every day. She is always in my mind and heart.”

Kelly was one of an estimated 480 walkers from 27 teams who took to the Moffat County High School track Friday night and walked through noon Saturday to raise funds, as well as to show support, in the fight against cancer.

Entering the event, teams spent months raising nearly $51,000. At event’s end, that number was at more than $64,000, and counting.

The tally impressed Anne Gulliksen, community relations manager staff person with the American Cancer Society and whose job is to go from city to city to help put on Relay for Life events.

“I think that is probably the highest, first-event total I have ever experienced or heard of on the Western Slope. : I don’t know how to describe it other than it was unbelievable,” she paused before repeating. “Unbelievable. : This community just came together.”

Elisa Hayes, chair of the Craig Relay, was equally as impressed.

“We hoped for a high side of $40,000, and we expected to raise $20,000. : So, when we actually hit $40,000, we were like, ‘Oh my God, we actually did it.’ And then to see that we tripled it, it was absolutely mind-boggling to see that kind of commitment in the community,” she said, crediting the teams for making the event so succusful.

The reason it was so successful were the people, said luminria chair Carla Alexander.

“There is a story behind every person that is here,” she said. “They’re here for a reason. Obviously, they’re not here for the walking. They’re here for somebody they know, for somebody that they care about. To see them come together, and dedicate as much time as they have, it is just amazing.

“It’s a lot to ask of people to walk around the track for 18 hours. And they’ve done it.”

One person who did it was 82-year-old George Lewis, a cancer survivor who stayed up all-night and walked 11 miles.

But he just didn’t do it for himself. He also did it for his wife, Ruth, whom he called a “miracle” after being diagnosed with cancer four times.

“There is a lot cancer history here,” he said, adding his wife is alive but in a rest home.

And that history also sparked memories by seeing other people’s current struggles.

For Hayes, the memories came from seeing cancer-stricken Cassie Owens being helped to the podium by family member Friday night to deliver a message of thanks and hope.

“For me, it brought back my reason for getting involved in the relay in the first place,” she said. “I lost my sister to breast cancer, and to realize the struggles that my sister went through and to see somebody so young to have those struggles, and to see the family that surrounds her, and to see someone who just fights, and to just see that hope in her and in everything about her and her family.

“That is what this relay is all about – people getting together. That is why we fundraise, so that we have an opportunity to find a cure for people like Cassie, for the people who we have names around the track.”

Next year, Hayes hopes for the event to be bigger.

“If we goaled $20,000 and made $60,000, then we have to goal $60,000,” Hayes said. “So imagine what we have to make (next year).”

Awards

Best campsite – Guns & Buns

Best team – Carnival Critters

Team spirit – Guns & Buns

More awards will be announced at a later date, including the winner of the traveling trophy, which goes to the team that raised the most money.

By the numbers