Moab Relay for Life participants walk the track at Grand County High School in 2013 to raise money for the American Cancer Society. This year, Relay for Life will be at the Old Spanish Trail Arena on Friday, Aug. 8. [Courtesy photo]

“I couldn’t believe it. I had three young kids. I didn’t want to die.”

Nine years ago, Melonie Dolphin was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. She remembered watching her dad die of cancer when she was young and didn’t want her kids to go through the same.

After her surgery, she found out that she was going to be okay. All she needed to do was take medication and have regular checkups. It took her only 12 months to fully recover from the cancer. She hid her sickness from the community because she was embarrassed at first, but now she is a proud survivor, and a proud mother.

“People didn’t know I had cancer until the first time I walked at Relay for Life and participated in the ‘survivors lap,” she said.

This year’s Grand County Relay for Life fundraiser will take place at the Old Spanish Trail Arena on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8 and 9. Registration and dinner start at 5 p.m. and the opening ceremony starts at 6 p.m. Registration is $10 and includes a T-shirt.

Relay for Life is a worldwide fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS). It has been in Moab for about eight years. The ACS has been conducting research on how to beat cancer for more than 65 years. It is invested in understanding cancer’s causes, how to prevent it and discover new ways to cure it.

Last year, more than 150 participants raised over $33,000. Moab has more than 200 cancer survivors. About 75 walk in Relay for Life each year.

“I love Relay for Life,” Dolphin said. “It brings us all together to help our friends and family in times of need.”

Relay for life is encouraged to be a team event where at least one member of the team is on the track at all times. Teams will camp out around the track and can compete for the best decorated campsite. The 12-hour walking event is filled with moving ceremonies and fun activities. To keep participants excited through the night, there will be themed laps and games such as the “Cotton-eyed Joe lap” and “pin the tail on the cancer kickin’ donkey.” The bands Steelbender 191 and Remission Possible will be providing musical entertainment.

Dinner, “Taste of Moab”, will be catered by many local restaurants serving their favorite dishes. Cancer survivors and caregivers eat free, $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Pizza Hut will provide participants with a midnight snack and the Moab Diner will serve breakfast.

The opening ceremony will celebrate survivors and their caregivers, and at 10 p.m. there will be a luminaire ceremony to remember those who are lost. Event chair Lorette “Yordy” Eastwood estimated that 300 people took to the track last year for this ceremony. The morning will bring a “fight back” ceremony. Eastwood said that the event parallels a cancer patient’s journey.

“It starts in the light of day, continues through the darkest of the night, and when they just want to give up, then the dawn arrives, and with it hope and freedom from the cancer,” she said.

To sign up, visit, and to volunteer, contact Eastwood at 970-986-9141.

“I hope we have a fun filled evening and that we can bring a sense of awareness and support for our cancer survivors and those who are currently fighting,” Eastwood said.

What: Relay for Life

When: Friday, Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. through Saturday, Aug. 9 at 6 a.m.

Where: Old Spanish Trail Arena (3641 S. Highway 191)

Cost: $10 registration, $10 dinner, $5 kids dinner, survivors and caretakers eat free

Register online at

“It starts in the light of day, continues through the darkest of the night, and when they just want to give up, then the dawn arrives, and with it hope and freedom from the cancer.”

Relay for Life fundraiser takes place this weekend