Although participation numbers were down compared to years past, Moab’s annual Relay for Life event was once again a success, raising more than $31,000 in the fight against cancer, organizers said.
“Looks like we had another great year,” said event chairwoman Lorette “Yordy” Eastwood. “At the end of relay night it looks like once we get the deposits entered into the computer we should have a total of $28,897.41.”
Eastwood said that another $2,877 in outstanding pledges and donations remains to be collected. When that amount is added in, it should bring the 2017 event’s final total to $31,774.41, she said.
Moab’s event was held at the Old Spanish Trail Arena for the fourth straight year. Dozens of participants took to the track and walked laps throughout the duration of the 10-hour event, which started at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 5 and ended just after midnight. Crowds grew more sparse as the night wore on, but a few determined walkers continued to make full laps, including the figure-8 loop that extended outside the north end of the arena.
For at least the second year in a row, the participant who walked the farthest was Warren Ohlrich of Moab, who logged 100 laps, or nearly 25 miles.
Moab’s relay is one of approximately 5,000 annual Relay for Life events staged in communities throughout the United States and in about 20 other countries. Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s principal fundraising tool, with more than 4 million participants each year. Over the past decade since it was first staged in Moab, the local Relay for Life has typically raised about $30,000 in donations each year.
One of the event’s top highlight was the survivor’s lap, which included more than two-dozen local cancer survivors walking around the track together in matching purple shirts. Victor Lovato led the way in carrying the torch.
“Watching the survivor lap always touches us as a committee … seeing who is there each year and worrying about who is not there this year,” Eastwood said.
“The luminaria is also touching, seeing the names as you walk around the track,” she added, referring to the white paper bags with candles inside, many of which had been decorated with the names of those who had either passed away from cancer or are still battling cancer.
Shortly after the survivor’s lap, the survivors, their caregivers, and families enjoyed a buffet-style “Taste of Moab” dinner, with a variety of entrees, side dishes and desserts donated by local restaurants.
This year’s top fundraising team was Cure Bound, headed by Tisha Ayers, which met its goal of raising more than $10,000. That amount was nearly matched by the UMTRA project team, which raised nearly $9,000 before the event and brought in another $1,026 during the evening’s silent auction featuring items donated by various local merchants.
“There seemed to be more activity at the silent auction,” Eastwood said. “Some things, including one I lost on, came down to the wire on the bids.”
Eastwood expressed her appreciation to all who participated, including those who served on the organizing committee. Joining Eastwood as event organizers were fellow committee members Kathy Turvy (luminarias and silent auction chair), Tisha Ayers (finance chair), Michelle Burton and Kathy Randall (team development), Irene Wagner (survivors), and Taryn Eastwood (entertainment).
“Melodie McCandless stepped in at the last minute to help take on the Taste of Moab,” Eastwood said. She also thanked the Valley Voices, Moab Taiko Dan drummers and Bubba Bartosh and the Red Rock Outlaws for providing entertainment.
“I love our community. It amazes me every year,” Eastwood said.