This year's Craig Relay for Life will take place July 17 at Moffat Count High School. Eighteen teams are signed up to walk for 24 hours for the American Cancer Society.

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This year's Craig Relay for Life will take place July 17 at Moffat Count High School. Eighteen teams are signed up to walk for 24 hours for the American Cancer Society.

Relay For Life aims high

Annual Craig fundraiser hopes to rally support despite recession

By the numbers

Start a team

Register at relayforlife.com For more information, call Ken Prescott at 276-1893 or e-mail Djkenny40@yahoo.com

By the numbers

Cancer statistics:

• 21,000 new cancer cases will be reported this year in Colorado

• 2.1 million new cases will be reported nationwide

• Relay for Life has raised $2.6 billion since its inception in 1985

• 4,800 Relays take place across the U.S.

* Statistics provided by Relay for Life.

— When Ken Prescott's wife was struggling with Hodgkin's lymphoma, he was stricken with many terrifying thoughts. One of the most difficult scenarios was how he could raise their two children on his own.

His worst fears never materialized, but he became aware that he was not the only one whose life has been affected by the pain of cancer.

"In America, eight out of 10 families will be touched by cancer," said Prescott, whose now ex-wife and children live in Craig. "That makes it very personal for everyone."

This year, Prescott, a Hayden resident, will serve as the committee chair for Craig's third annual Relay For Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, scheduled for July 17 at Moffat County High School.

"It's kind of a rebuilding year," Prescott said. "We've got a whole new committee this year. But, Craig has never not rallied around the Relay For Life."

Last year, Craig was ranked third in the nation for money raised in towns of a similar size.

"Craig is a very giving, very close-knit community," Prescott said. "And that is one of the beautiful things about this area."

The Craig event raised $103,000 last year, which went directly to the American Cancer Society to fund research, education, advocacy and patient services.

Prescott said he is happy to have several local companies on board to provide sponsorships and services to run the event. That way, all money raised can go straight to the ACS without having to be used to fund the event.

Currently, there are 18 teams signed up; 40 teams participated last year.

Prescott said the condition of the national economy prevents many people and companies from donating as much as they would like to.

But, he encouraged members of the community to get involved in whatever way they can, whether it's signing up their own team or volunteering at the event.

"Just because we're in a recession, it doesn't mean that cancer slows down," he said. "We do (the Relay) at night as a reminder that cancer never sleeps. We're constantly fighting it."

Prescott has been involved with Relay For Life in some capacity since 1998. He has been a disc jockey at a total of 44 events across the Western Slope, and is sitting as the committee chair for his first year.

"A lot of cancer out there is preventable," he said. "With education and awareness, we can find ways to prevent it by making healthier choices or detect it earlier while it's more treatable."

Prescott set his goal for this year's Relay at $50,000, and said he was confident it could be reached.

Relay For Life began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, of Tacoma, Wash., walked and ran around a track for 24 hours by himself to raise money and awareness on behalf of the American Cancer Society.

That first Relay raised $27,000 and helped shape the vision of a nationwide Relay For Life.

Teams of 15 are expected to raise $100 per member, but many surpass that mark, Prescott said. A meeting of team captains will take place July 7 at MCHS, but teams can register online at www.relayforlife.com.

Prescott said he highly encourages local survivors and families of cancer patients to get involved and participate in the event.

"We're looking for survivors to join the Relay because this is really for them," he said. "They are the ones fighting.

"It's about getting the community to accept the fact that we can defeat cancer; we must defeat cancer."

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