The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Residents 'relay big'

 

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CMI staff photo: Tony Bullocks Cheyenne Edwards, 5, of Clovis sings "God Bless America" during the opening ceremony Friday of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Ned Houk Park in Clovis.

Area residents gathered at Ned Houk Park north of Clovis on Friday night to "relay big" and honor those who have battled cancer as well as raise funds to fight cancer in the Relay For Life.

CMI staff photo: Tony Bullocks

Cheyenne Edwards, 5, of Clovis sings "God Bless America" during the opening ceremony Friday of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life at Ned Houk Park in Clovis.

The relay began with cancer survivors, wearing their purple survivor T-shirts, taking the first lap. Afterwards the survivors dispersed into their own teams and the relay continued throughout the night.

A festival-like atmosphere permeated the relay as relayers continued their laps. The air was filled with music and the smell of barbecue. There were plenty of games for children to play. Relayers chatted with friends, and vendors sold everything from cotton candy to pink cowboy hats to raise money for the fight against cancer.

Kizzy Maloni, the event chairman, said there were 96 teams participating, and she estimated 1,500 people were at the Relay For Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Here are a few stories of cancer survivors who participated in the race:

Francine Mills was diagnosed with cancer in November 2011. She had a surgery in January 2012 that ended her bout with cancer.

Mills said it was important for her to beat cancer because she has a lot of grandchildren.

"This is a lot of fun," Mills said about the event. "Everybody is out here together like it's a big family gathering. I've been meeting new friends and connecting with old friends."

• • •

Jerry Shade, dressed as B-Bop the Clown, said he battled with cancer in 2004. He said he was fortunate enough to have been diagnosed with cancer before it got out of hand.

CMI staff photo: Tony Bullocks

With B-Bop the clown joining the group on the left, cancer survivors lead off the Clovis Relay for Life Friday at Ned Houk Park in Clovis.

"I don't make a big deal of it," he said about his cancer.

B-Bop, who has been clowning for 17 years said, "Clowning was a therapy," during his time with cancer.

He said he comes to the relay to give the participants a boost and have fun with the children.

• • •

Mike Reyna was diagnosed with cancer on March 6.

"I didn't think it would happen, but look at me."

He said he didn't realize how many were affected by cancer until he got involved with Relay for Life.

"It's an amazing thing," Reyna said about the relay. "It's nice to see all the support people are giving."

• • •

Marty Chacon began participating in Relay For Life long before her own cancer battle because both her parents are survivors.

"A lot of people walk it as a victory lap," Chacon said about the survivors lap, "but for me it's emotional because we were caregivers in the hospital the whole time my daughter's father battled leukemia. We do it in his honor."

• • •

CMI staff photo: Tony Bullocks With B-Bop the clown joining the group on the left, cancer survivors lead off the Clovis Relay for Life Friday at Ned Houk Park in Clovis.

Holli Watson (Chacon's daughter) was marching with a team named "The Dukes." The team's name comes from Holli's father, Robert Watson, who died in 2007.

"He was a big John Wayne fan,' Holli said about her father. So they named their team the Dukes.

She said the relay is mostly sad for her because it reminds her of her father, who died from leukemia.

"It can be pretty emotional. It's a way to remember."

 
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