Cancer Never Sleeps, So Relay Walkers Won’t Either
by Kati O'Hare
May 23, 2012 | 780 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<b>RELAY FOR LIFE</b> - Area children released balloons to kickoff the 11th annual Relay For Life of Montrose County event at the Montrose High School track in June 2011. There were 33 teams that participated in the event. (Photo by Joel Blocker)
RELAY FOR LIFE - Area children released balloons to kickoff the 11th annual Relay For Life of Montrose County event at the Montrose High School track in June 2011. There were 33 teams that participated in the event. (Photo by Joel Blocker)
MONTROSE – People from all walks of life will walk together for a common mission on June 8 – finding a cure for cancer.

The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is a time to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who have lost their battles and fight for a cure by raising money for the cancer society.

The event kicks off at 6 p.m. on June 8 at the Montrose High School football field, and throughout the night, participants will walk the track, symbolizing that there is no finish line until there is a cure.

"We must go from sun down to sun up because cancer never sleeps," event chairperson Cheryl Leu said.

Leu, who fought her cancer battle just last year, got a late start to this year's event, taking on the responsibility of chairperson after the former leader had a stroke.

"It's been really hard with such a late start, but we can't let this event fail," she said.

There are currently 21 teams signed up – Leu is still reaching for her goal of 35.

Teams can sign up at, and each is given a fundraising goal of $1,500. Teams can have as many participants as they want or as few as one.

Why each person participates is personal. Their stories are heart wrenching, passionate and saddening, but they also are inspiring and filled with bravery that is unmatched.

And with each person who takes time to participate in Relay For Life, there is added hope that one day there may be a cure, team caption Elisa Heine said.

Cancer has been a part of Heine's life since she was a baby. At 9 months old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then in sixth grade, the cancer returned.

"At first, when you find out that someone in your family is diagnosed, it's hard. You're angry and upset, but most of all your scared," Heine said. "When I was little, I didn't want to do these kinds of events cause it scared me, but now that I'm older and had that time period to heal, now these events really inspire and bring hope."

Heine and her mother will be participating together on "The Choral Cure" team.

"(Cancer) is all around us even if we don't realize it," Heine said. "Now it's about helping others deal with it because they helped me deal with it. It's about helping each other heal in a way."

That camaraderie and giving is why employees at NuVista Credit Union decided to form a team.

"We do a lot of giving back to our communities as a whole," co-caption Angela Halsey said. "Many people are affected by cancer in one form or another, and everyone has their own reasons here."

Halsey lost her father to cancer in 2003, so personally, Relay For Life is her way of honoring him and giving back. She also does it for her kids and husband, with the hope that they never have to experience cancer.

The same is true for team caption Brenda Vanhouten.

"I am a Survivor! I am a Warrior!" she wrote on her biography page for the event. "I Relay in hopes my kids will not have to go through this as adults, and for every family out there."

As part of the event, there are activities, contests and ceremonies that take place throughout the night. Leu is looking for people to help manage these activities.

"I don't have a person to organize the whole event at the field," she said. "I desperately need a logistics chairperson."

The event also is looking for major sponsors. Currently it has two: Montrose Memorial Hospital and Montrose Surgical Associates.

And people can help in other ways if they can't participate in the all-night event.

The choir team is selling purple flags for $30. The flags can be decorated and will replace the red flags that currently line the football field for the night's event. Afterwards, owners can take their flags home. They can be purchased through a choir student or by calling Cheryl Leu at 970/209-8905.

Businesses also can help by buying a track marker for $100. The signs have similar dimensions to political lawn signs and will be seen all night by the walkers.

White bags for the Luminaria Ceremony also can be purchased for $5 online at That ceremony will take place at sunset.
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