Cancer survivors in spotlight Saturday for Kingman's 11th Annual Relay for Life

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR>
Gavin Harmon, then 3, and his mother Tanya enjoy walking a lap with other family members during the Relay for Life in June 2012. Their family was there for many of their relatives who have been affected by cancer.

JC AMBERLYN/Miner<BR> Gavin Harmon, then 3, and his mother Tanya enjoy walking a lap with other family members during the Relay for Life in June 2012. Their family was there for many of their relatives who have been affected by cancer.

KINGMAN - The names of many of the 36 teams already signed up for the 11th Annual Kingman Relay for Life this month pointedly describe their thoughts about cancer.

There's Strictly Against Cancer, Cancer Kickers, Anytime Warriors, Wacky Wild Prayer Warriors, KRMC Catch it Early and Cancer Busters. Also, there's Team Survivor, ABC - Another Birthday Candle, Cancer's Kryptonite, The Big Fighters for Hope and The Curesaders.

The names leave no question about the goal of the 367 team members who will be walking the track and raising money to help find a cure for the disease. The Relay for Life takes place around the nation at the same time to help support the American Cancer Society.

"There's two sides to the coin," said Dannie Winget, chairwoman of the Kingman event. "There's the Kingman Cancer Center, which is local, and there's Relay for Life, which is mostly national. Our goal is to show everyone that the fight won't stop until there's an end to cancer."

Winget said she got involved with Kingman Relay for Life several years ago, but it has taken on a deeper meaning because her mother was diagnosed with cancer this year and had her right kidney removed. Winget said her mother was very sick but is doing much better now.

So far, $39,389.82 has been raised toward the local $60,000 goal by the Kingman teams, and the fund-raising will continue until August. Last year, 32 teams raised $61,825 during Kingman Relay for Life for cancer research.

The national Relay for Life was started in 1985 by Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Wash., who ran around a track by himself for 24 hours to raise $27,000 in support of the American Cancer Society. It has grown over the years.

Now, teams and individuals set up campsites at schools, parks and fairgrounds, then take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team has at least one relayer on the track at all times.

Cancer survivors and caregivers take a celebratory first lap to start each event, and are honored throughout the night. The money raised supports cancer research, education and prevention programs, and critical services for people fighting cancer.

Those include the "Look Good Feel Better" program, where trained volunteer cosmetologists teach women how to cope with their skin changes and hair loss with cosmetics and skincare products donated by the cosmetic industry.

The "Road to Recovery" program provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer. The "Reach for Recovery - Reach to Recovery" program helps those battling breast cancer cope with their experience.

"Hope Lodge" offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when their best hope for effective treatment is in another city. In Arizona, there is a lodge in Phoenix for those who travel there for medical care.

The Kingman event begins at 6 p.m. Saturday with an opening ceremony designed to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer and inspire hope by sharing recent accomplishments and progress. It also reminds participants that the fight against cancer is a year-round priority.

The Survivor/Caregiver Lap takes place at 6:30 p.m., celebrating those who have beat cancer and those who have cared for others with the disease. At 9 p.m., there will be a Luminaria Ceremony to remember those lost to cancer, support those who currently have it, and honor those who fought it in the past.

The closing ceremony is scheduled for 6 a.m. June 7, and focuses on the continuing fight against cancer over the next year. Live music throughout the night will be provided by Chris Commisso, Briana Payne Band, Going Co-Pilot, West Coast Travelers and DJ Jeremiah.

During the event, other laps include a team lap, glow-in-the-dark lap, crazy hat lap, sport lap, pajama lap, crazy dance lap, superhero lap, and movie character lap. Other activities include a plank walk, tug of war, Zumba, frozen T-shirt unrolling, duct tape fashion show, dunk tank and donut-eating contest.

Peggy Smith, a member of the Big E's team, said she and her husband, daughter and granddaughter will be at the relay. They will be remembering Smith's mother-in-law, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost her battle two years ago, with her name and photo on luminaria bags.

"What Relay for Life means to me is that we'll be able to help someone else who is going through cancer treatment and recovery," said Smith. "We're doing this in memory of my mother-in-law and everyone else who has lost the battle to cancer. It's important to continue fighting."

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