Relay entries slow

By Kevin Wilson

The Relay for Life is just three weeks away in Portales, and event organizers still have several spaces available at Greyhound Arena.

The annual event to fund-raise for cancer research is scheduled for Feb. 24-25. The event is considered a youth event, but organizers have said that adults are welcome to participate as in past years.

“I think the youth title has thrown people off,” advisor Debbie Stenstrom said. “Calling it an all-youth relay has kind of scared the adults off.”

The reason to make the Portales Relay a youth event, organizers said, was to start building a lifelong interest for students in the event and to possibly incorporate area high school groups, which could use the event as a community service project.

As of Friday afternoon, 15 groups had completed registration for the event.

“We know we have some more teams that are coming in,” Stenstrom said. “I’ve talked to some who are (nearing completion of registration). We really need to get a few more teams registered.”

The youth designation also means that many of the activities and entertainment are geared towards the youth. To honor a cancer survivor, the organizers have picked Portales Junior High student Dominga Carrasco as an honorary chairperson.

Carrasco was diagnosed last October with fibroblastic osteosarcoma, in the form of a tumor near her right orbital and sinus area.

Since that time, Carrasco has undergone 10 weeks of chemotherapy at the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital, followed by visits to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. and to nearby St. Mary’s Hospital, where the tumor was removed.

“We have to go back in three months for a followup,” said Dominga’s mother, Rosalie, “but she’s really on her way back to healing.”

Dominga was scheduled to take part in a miniature parade to the junior high school on Friday, but felt below the weather. Rosalie Carrasco said that the family goes in and out of the emergency room, and Dominga often needs nasal irrigations to keep the sinus cavity free of infection.
Community support has been a big motivator for Dominga and the family, Rosalie said.

“It’s kept our spirits up,” Rosalie said. “They’ve helped us a lot, especially in prayer and support. The whole community’s been very supportive throughout this.”

To register, a team needs at least five people. Each of the team members pays $10 to register for the event. After registration is complete, the teams can raise funds for the event in any way they see fit.

The Relay for Life is the main project for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America for 2006, and the Portales High School FCCLA chapter is taking the reins for the event.
Ashley Birkholz, a senior at PHS, and Selena Velasco, a junior, are the event’s co-chairs.

The FCCLA chapter is offering to deliver or pick up registration packets. The chapter can be reached at the high school during normal school hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For information on the relay, contact the PHS FCCLA chapter at 356-5831, ext. 33, or Stenstrom at 693-2369.