EVANSTON — In spite of the wind and threatening rainstorm, the Relay for Life event was a success. According to Jennifer Syvertson, Senior Community Development Manager for the American Cancer Society, the event raised over $9,000 from sponsors, team walkers, raffles and donations. Syvertson said they had 84 walkers registered but many more joined the walk without registering.
“Our events are totally volunteer driven, and they are only made possible by the driving force of volunteers who know their community resources and understand what the needs are,” Syvertson said in a telephone interview with the Herald.
The evening’s event was held at the Bear Meadows and the theme for this year was “Pirates of the Cure-ibbean.” A.J. Lamb, who played music throughout the night, was dressed for the occasion in a pirate costume. A tent with tables and chairs was set up and supper was served at 5 p.m. for survivors, caregivers, sponsors and volunteers.
A variety of vendors and service providers were spread out around the edge of the sidewalk. A registration booth invited walkers to sign up as teams or as individuals. Sponsor signs were placed in the grass around the edge of the park.
Local Boy Scout Troop 83 started the ceremony at 6 p.m. by presenting the flag while a group of young women sang the national anthem.
Relay For Life of Uinta County coordinator and moderator Tiffany Hogue introduced the guest speaker, cancer survivor Kelly Miller of Cedar Hills, Utah.
Miller told of her own personal battle with cancer at the age of 13, the agony of losing her leg and subsequently being diagnosed with lung cancer as well. After surviving her own cancer Kelly later lost her teen daughter to leukemia. Today, Miller has been cancer-free for 45 years and has been involved with fundraising for the American Cancer Society for 19 years. (Miller’s entire story was told in a special section for the Aug. 2 edition of the Herald).
“Research is the answer to conquering cancer. If the Mayo Clinic had not had a research lab and used me to try a new treatment I wouldn’t be here. Give your donations to individuals if you so choose but also give to the ACS for research,” Miller said.
Kelly Sugihara of Wyoming Cancer Resource Services told her personal cancer story as well and said that today in her work she is a strong advocate for the HPV vaccine. She said that her organization can pay for screening and other kinds of assistance.
Dr. Spencer Weston reminded people that one-third to one-half of all cancers are preventable.
“It is an exciting time as blood tests can now show risk factors and people can take preventive measures to protect themselves,” he said. “There are lots of resources and information available today.”
Winners of the donated raffle items were announced, including Pat Hansen, who won the quilt made of former relay for life T-shirts; Kelly Sugihara, who won a massage from Deborah Reno; and Connie Staker, who won a lap quilt. Every cancer survivor was treated to a decorated box made from and filled with chocolate, designed and created by Jeanne Zappia with the help of Gail Walbridge.
Throughout the evening people walked around Bear Meadows or participated in a variety of exercises set up at specific times. At 7 p.m., Michele Steineckert from High Fitness led an hour of exercise; at 8 p.m., Angie Fessler of Moonflower Yoga taught simple yoga techniques; at 9 p.m., Zumba instructor Kate Brown involved participants in lively dance; and, finally, at 9:30 p.m., Jennifer Syvertson ended the Bear Meadows activities with luminarias lining the walkway.
The grand finale of the evening was the showing of the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” at Bear River State Park.
Hogue and Syvertson announced that next year’s Relay for Life will be on Aug. 15, 2020.