[Courtesy photo]

Kathy Turvy is a cancer survivor; she has lots of friends who have survived cancer, and there are several she’s lost to the disease. That’s why, for the past 16 years, she said she has volunteered with the American Cancer Society’s biggest fundraiser – Relay for Life.

“Cancer touches every single person,” Turvy said. “I feel strongly about wanting to find a cure. We’re getting closer.”

Relay for Life is a community fundraising walk where teams of people raise money for cancer research by collecting pledges for each lap completed around a track. Annual Relay for Life events take place across the United States.

Typically, Relay for Life events last 24 hours with participants walking throughout the night. This year’s Relay for Life of Grand County, which takes place at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, Saturday, August 6, will go from noon to midnight.

Taste of Moab, which is open to anyone, will take place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the arena. Various local restaurants donate dishes for the cause. Cancer survivors dine for free, while caregivers and kids eat for half-price. For everyone else, the cost is $10.

While forming teams is encouraged, anyone can come and participate, event leader Yordy Eastwood said.

There’s a survivor lap at 4 p.m. for cancer survivors and their caregivers who walk the track; a luminaria ceremony at 10 p.m. where participants walk in silence in memory of those who have died; and, there’s a pledge to “fight back” ceremony against cancer by raising awareness of preventive measures such as getting mammograms, colonoscopies and protecting the skin from sun.

An opening ceremony takes place at noon, followed by various kids’ activities, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. A “warriors against cancer” obstacle course for kids ends with a battle using water pistols. There will also be mask making and face painting.

Most of the money raised at Utah Relay for Life events goes to Hope Lodge in Salt Lake City, an American Cancer Society facility that offers free lodging to patients and caregivers from around the intermountain West who come to Salt Lake City for treatment, Eastwood said.

“Last year, we raised $33,000,” Eastwood said. “Our goal this year is $40,000, but we hope for $45,000.”

Thus far, 100 people have registered for the event, and Eastwood said she expects at least another 100 or 150 participants. Pre-registration is not required – people can just show up, she said.

A silent auction will run throughout the day with items and services donated by local businesses. People will have opportunities to bid on such items as hotel stays, a zip-line adventure, original artwork, books, T-shirts, jeep rentals, and bike repairs and rentals.

“Moab merchants have been very generous,” Turvy said. “We currently have over $5,000 worth of goods, almost 90 items for the auction.”

Additionally, prizes will be given out throughout the night – T-shirts, Relay for Life cups, and gas cards from the Maverik station, for example.

According to the Relay for Life website, the event was founded 30 years ago after Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington. He raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. A year later, 340 supporters joined the overnight event.

Relay for Life event raises money for cancer research

I feel strongly about wanting to find a cure. We’re getting closer.

To volunteer, or for more information about forming a team, contact Eastwood at 435-259-6623.