Moab’s Relay for Life moving indoors for 2014 event
by Jeff Richards
Contributing Writer
Jul 17, 2014 | 3239 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cancer survivors (clad in purple shirts) and their caregivers (in gray shirts) kick off the opening lap of Moab’s eighth annual Relay for Life fundraising event in 2013. Photo by Jeff Richards
Cancer survivors (clad in purple shirts) and their caregivers (in gray shirts) kick off the opening lap of Moab’s eighth annual Relay for Life fundraising event in 2013. Photo by Jeff Richards
This year, for the first time in its nine-year history, Moab’s “Relay for Life” will be held indoors at the Old Spanish Trail Arena.

The annual community event, an all-night fund-raiser benefiting the American Cancer Society, is scheduled to start the evening of Friday, Aug. 8 and last until the following morning. The arena is located at 3641 S. U.S. 191.

Although Moab’s event has been staged at the Grand County High School football field and track each year since its inception in 2006, organizers said the change of venue will allow participants to not have to worry about wind, rain, and other adverse weather conditions.

According to event co-chairwoman Lorette “Yordy” Eastwood, the air-conditioned arena also features “a great sound system that we can run all night long.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Kickin’ Cancer, One Step at a Time,” Eastwood added.

The relay will kick off at 5 p.m. on Aug. 8 with a “Taste of Moab” dinner featuring signature dishes from several of the area’s top restaurants. Local cancer survivors may eat for free, while others are asked to contribute $10 per plate.

“I’m really excited about this year’s Taste of Moab because these are some of my favorite places to eat,” said Eastwood, adding that The Branding Iron, Pantele’s, Singha Thai, Wake and Bake, Zax, Sweet Cravings, Legers, The Rio, Moab Brewery, Peace Tree, and Pasta Jay’s are among the establishments that have already agreed to participate.

“Crystal’s Cakes and Cones is also doing the cupcakes for the survivors,” Eastwood said.

After the hour-long dinner, the event’s opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., with a survivors’ lap scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

According to Eastwood, the perimeter of the rodeo arena is slightly smaller than the 400-meter track used in the past, so each mile may require one additional lap. In addition to being measured out, the dirt surface will be compacted to make it more suitable for walking on, she said.

The interior of the arena is expected to be filled with the tents and canopies of participants and vendors alike.

Moab’s Relay for Life typically attracts hundreds of participants, including several dozen who keep walking throughout the night, with the top walkers typically logging several miles apiece. The idea behind the relay is that each participating team is supposed to keep at least one of its members moving around the track for the duration of the 12-hour event. 

A “luminaria” ceremony is scheduled for 10 p.m., when the venue will go dark except for the participants’ glow-sticks and an array of lighted paper bags bearing the names of cancer victims and survivors.

“We have some great games and themed laps to keep the walkers energized all the way until morning,” Eastwood said.

The event will wrap up with a 6 a.m. closing ceremony in conjunction with breakfast.

Live music will be provided by local rockers Steelbender 191 and at least one other band, Eastwood added.

“We are really excited about having a sound system that we can keep playing all night,” she said.

In addition to Eastwood and event co-chairwoman Melonie Dolphin, the 2014 Relay for Life organizers include finance chairwoman Tisha Ayers, survivor chairwoman Irene Wagner, luminaria chairwoman Kathy Turvey, team development co-chairwomen Kathy Randall and Michelle Burton, entertainment co-chairwomen Taryn Eastwood and Laurie Freeborn, and Taste of Moab chairwomen BreAnn Russell and La Trece O’Connor. Tanya Relitz is also assisting as a committee member.

Last year, Moab’s Relay for Life raised $33,556, with 150 registered participants on 20 teams participating, according to Eastwood. So far this year, eight teams and 40 participants are registered for the Moab event, and $7,680 has already been raised, according to information on the website.

“You do not have to be on a team to participate,” noted Eastwood, who added that unlike previous years, when team memberships were capped at 15 total people, there is no longer a limit to the number of people that can sign up for a given team.

Eastwood said that the 150 figure cited for last year includes registrants only and does not include the 75 or so survivors who took part, in addition to many of their family members and caregivers. She estimates there were actually more than 300 people on the track during last year’s luminaria walk.

Although there is no admission charge to take part in the relay activities, generous donations are encouraged, since it is primarily a fundraising event. As an example to how the money is used, Eastwood said that the American Cancer Society currently is funding $3.5 million in research grants in Utah, with approximately one dozen grants at the University of Utah and the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Anyone interested in donating, signing up, volunteering, ordering a T-shirt, or becoming a sponsor for this year’s Relay for Life may visit the website and enter either “Moab” or “84532” in the search field to find the local event. Participants can register, make donations, and monitor their individual or team’s progress on the website.

For more information, contact Eastwood at 435-259-8553 or Dolphin at 435-260-0455. Local cancer survivors who desire to participate (and receive a T-shirt) are asked to contact Irene Wagner at 435-260-8465.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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