Kimberly Henrie is sick of cancer.”I have many family members who have been affected by cancer,” she said, before a recent Relay for Life committee meeting. “I have an aunt in Sun City, Arizona, who is in her fourth year of fighting ovarian cancer. She just got out of the hospital. … It’s been a real hard time.”Motivated by thoughts of her aunt and other family members diagnosed with the disease, the KMTS radio personality eagerly volunteered to coordinate Glenwood Springs’ first Relay for Life last spring.”I was looking for community service involvement … and it was a perfect fit,” she said.In the second annual Relay for Life, starting at 6 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Glenwood Springs High School football field, Henrie hopes to bring in $20,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s largest fund-raiser. “I’m more into preventing cancer than curing it,” said Henrie, who also serves as a director for a home-based wellness products company. “Anything we can do to support survivors and family members is valuable.”Henrie said the Relay for Life is a distinctive community event that welcomes participation from all ages.”First of all, we’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t been affected by cancer. The average person has had some kind of exposure to it,” she said. “The Relay for Life applies to everyone. If you don’t want to get cancer, this applies to you.”Glenwood Springs is one of 4,200 communities nationwide participating in the team-focused event. Rifle recently collected $61,000 in its own Relay for Life. So far, Henrie has recruited three teams to participate in Glenwood.During the 16-hour fund-raiser, cancer survivors, their families and the general public come together to raise awareness and money for research, education, advocacy, and patient and family services.”We have a job for everyone, even if you just want to come out and support the people walking,” Henrie said. “The survivor ceremony is for anyone who has survived cancer, but if you just want to come out and experience the luminaria ceremony, you can.”As the sun sets, the Relay for Life’s ceremony features luminarias – paper bags, each with a candle inside – with an individual’s name, purchased for a $5 donation each.”Seeing all those bags and realizing each one represents a person is very meaningful,” Henrie said. “Feeling that loss of loved ones affected me on a deep level.”At last year’s event, Henrie was also touched by a community member whose parents both died from the disease.”The person I happened to be walking with had lost both his parents to cancer,” she said. “He chose that time to talk about them.”American Cancer Society district executive director Trish St. John said she hopes survivors and those with a personal connection to cancer help form teams for Relay for Life. Last year’s event raised $3,000, and Henrie and her committee hope to see nearly seven times more raised in 2005.”We really need to focus on recruitment,” said St. John, of the American Cancer Society Great West Division in Colorado Springs. “It takes the teams to get it going. Teams really need to be a top priority.”Anyone can form a team, typically comprising eight to 15 members, Henrie said. Prior to the event, team members raise money through letter-writing campaigns, personal and corporate sponsorships, luminaria sales and by hosting a variety of community benefits. Between 6 p.m. Aug. 12 and 10 a.m. Aug. 13, team members take turns walking around the GSHS track – usually in one-hour increments – so someone is representing the team on the track at all times.Committee member Jeannine Ford-Artaz, a cancer survivor whose 36-year-old daughter died of breast cancer on Mother’s Day 14 years ago, said she is happy to support the cause and help recruit team members.”That could be something I could do because I’m related to three-quarters of the valley,” Ford-Artaz said. “And I don’t hesitate to pick people’s pockets.”Hearing those words, Henrie smiled, knowing she had picked the right committee members for her mission.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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