Relay for Life of Grand County makes great strides in second year | SkyHiNews.com

Relay for Life of Grand County makes great strides in second year

KATIE LOOBY
SKY-HI DAILY NEWS

Cathy Weninger had a sleepless night.

She donned a purple wig and waved a Barbie princess baton that created a “magical noise” and illuminated the pitch-black sky at the Middle Park High School Saturday.

Weninger was one of many participants who walked in the second annual Relay For Life of Grand County. It raised more than $12,000, and 90 percent will stay in the county.

The relay took place during the middle of the night “because cancer never sleeps.” Weninger stayed up for the whole 13 hours and was captain of the “Crazy Against Cancer” group, which consisted of 14 coworkers from Grand Mountain Bank in Granby. “You had to be dressed up crazy in order to be on our team,” Weninger joked.

While she was awake she thought about cancer patients and caregivers who also stay up through the night.

“I wanted to truly experience it,” she said. “(Caregivers) have sleepless nights ” this was mine.”

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Weninger walked in memory of her mom, Dolores Hileman, who she lost to cervical cancer when she was 14; and her aunt, Arlene Timm, who was a victim of ovarian cancer. She also decorated a luminaria in memory of them and set the lighted bags along the track in line with dozens of other luminaria.

The 9 p.m. Luminaria Ceremony was emotional, she said. “My friend and I were hugging and crying as we walked.”

About four teams and 45 participants signed up for the relay before the event, but Sponsorship Chair Sybil Miller said more people showed up. The society is still tallying the number of teams and participants.

“We had a lot more people there, which was wonderful,” said Event Chair Sandy Clem. “I know that as other people find out about it this is going to grow for several years.”

Last year the event raised more than $7,000.

“I’m hoping we double what we did last year,” Miller said, adding that checks are still coming in. “Our ultimate goal is to be able to provide more services up here so people can be at home (during treatment).”

Breast cancer survivor Penny Hamilton was one of 15 cancer survivors who walked in the Survivors Lap at the start of the relay.

“It was festive,” she said. “It was a celebration of life.”

Hamilton said cancer can be isolating, but this event brought people together. “To see my friends and my business associates supporting the event was very moving.”

She was diagnosed with breast cancer October 2007. She went through treatment from November to January, but said it’s “ongoing.”

One of the challenges was the “lack” of medical resources in Grand County and having to travel to the Front Range for the treatment, she said. “That’s why we need to support our rural health initiative,” Hamilton added.

June Ebell also walked that day with the “Crazy Against Cancer” group. She sported a long neon green wig as she walked in honor of her parents, Georgette and Nehiley, victims of lung cancer, and her two brother-in-laws, who also died of cancer.

“I felt helpless watching them die,” Ebell said. “This allowed me to fight back against it … I was with other people who had gone through the same thing I had gone through. I saw the community come together.”

Nearly 19,000 Coloradans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and about 1,437,180 new cancer cases are expected this year nationwide, according to the American Cancer Society. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the United States. It accounts for one in every four deaths.

Local victims, survivors, and caregivers needing information or assistance with items such as gas cards, grocery cards and lodging cards should call Judy Simpson, American Cancer Society’s Quality of Life Manager at (970) 356-9727. For wigs, contact Tawnya Bailey at Shear Design in Granby, (970) 887-9383 or (970) 887-2302.

Donations will be accepted through the month of August. Checks can be sent to: American Cancer Society Grand County Relay, c/o Sybil Miller, P.O. Box 675, Winter Park CO 80482. People also can make online credit card donations at http://www.grandcountyrelay.org.

” Katie Looby can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or e-mail klooby@grandcountynews.com.

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