This year’s event, which featured the theme “Kicking Cancer, One Step at a Time,” took place at the Old Spanish Trail Arena, where participants walked around a dirt track at the edge of the arena. The all-night event started with a “Taste of Moab” dinner at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8 and ended with breakfast at 6 a.m. on Saturday.
Event co-chairwoman Lorette “Yordy” Eastwood said that although the number of participants was down slightly this year, the event was still a success.
“We did not have the turnout we had gotten the year before, but we made over $1,200 on the Taste of Moab, which was up from $900 the year before. So we fed more people.”
The Taste of Moab fundraising event featured a variety of entrees and side dishes donated by at least a dozen local merchants. Some 60 cancer survivors ate for free, while others paid $10 per plate.
Shortly after the dinner was completed, participants gathered on the track as the event officially got underway, with teenager Taitum Cook singing the national anthem as a group of veterans presented the flags.
Next came the survivors lap, with many of the 60 cancer survivors in attendance being joined by approximately 40 caregivers in a solemn trip around the track.
For recent Grand County High School graduate Nicole Lara, it was her third relay overall but her first one without her mother Teresa Farni, who lost her battle with breast cancer four months ago.
“I’ve gone to Relay for life for the past three years,” said Lara, who is expecting her first child in November. “My mom was a survivor the last two years, and this year we walked in memory of her.”
After the survivors and caregivers had walked a couple of laps, many other participants took to the track, with some walking several miles over the course of the evening. Multiple participants commented on how they liked the shorter laps of approximately 175 yards (10 laps per mile), instead of the 400-meter laps on the high school track used in previous years.
Several teams of participants had set up camp inside the arena, with the goal of keeping at least one person walking on the track all night, all the while raising money in a variety of innovative and entertaining ways.
“We did not have a lot of walkers, but those that did complete the night had fun,” Eastwood said, adding, “The cake walk was the most popular. One kid did 66 laps that hour.” He and two others won cakes made and donated by Karen Green, she said.
“The Gold Rush laps were also very popular,” Eastwood added, noting that Shirley Stewart and Kris Brey were among the more dedicated walkers. “They just kept walking … not sure where they found the energy!”
All in all, more than 130 registered walkers took part, along with numerous children and other spectators.
“We probably had between 300 and 400 people total,” Eastwood said.
Local radio station manager an on-air personality Phil Mueller, who has himself been battling cancer for the past few years, broadcast the event to KCYN listeners.
Organizers said this week that although the final tally of donations yet been completed, with some outstanding pledges still coming in, it was likely to be between $25,000 and $30,000, down from last year’s final amount of nearly $32,000.
Still, Eastwood and other organizers said they were pleased with how the event turned out.
“I thought it was amazing!” said event co-chairwoman Melonie Dolphin, who is also a cancer survivor. “I really liked it being inside!”
“We did not have as many people participate this year, but it sure was fun having music and being able to be loud all night long. The themed laps late at night were so fun,” Dolphin added, thanking all the participants, sponsors, donors, and fellow organizers for their generous support.
Other Relay for Life organizers and committee members for this year’s event included Tisha Ayers, Irene Wagner, Kathy Turvey, Kathy Randall, Michelle Burton, Taryn Eastwood, Laurie Freeborn, BreAnn Russell, La Trece O’Connor, and Tanya Relitz.