Hundreds walk for cancer cure in area’s annual Relay For Life

By William Thompson

Anna Winslow, a freshman at Portales High School, said she was walking in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Friday night because she loves her grandmother so much.

“My grandmother has had cancer three times,” Wallace said, “I’m doing this for her.”

Wallace was joined by hundreds of area residents as they prepared to stay up all night inside Greyhound Arena, walking in shifts to raise money for cancer research.

Some said the relay was going to be a big party. Many were dressed in colorful Mardi Gras-themed attire. Various area school groups had tents set up inside the arena, but most students said they weren’t planning on sleeping.

Dustin Shirley, a member of the Portales High School choir said he forgot to bring snacks to the relay, but his choir relay team was going to sell burritos and he said he might mooch some snacks off some of his classmates.

“I didn’t raise as much money as I had hoped,” Shirley said, “but I’ll be selling burritos tonight. I’m here because I wanted to help the community.”

Relay for Life organizers Debbie Stenstrom and Dorothy Nelson each said they were excited with how this year’s event has come together.

“We have 36 teams,” Stenstrom said. “So far we’ve raised at least over $15,000, and we’ll raise more tonight.”

“I’m staying up all night. I’m going to party,” Nelson said. “It has actually been a very relaxed day. That’s the result of good planning.”

Last year’s Relay for Life raised about $30,000 for the American Cancer Society, according to Nelson.

Texico High School student Diana Reynoso came to the relay with her Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) friends.

“Cancer affects a lot of people in the world and if we can do our part, we’re happy to,” she said.

Reynoso sold purple and pink paper chain links to help raise money, and her FCCLA chapter held a talent show in which particpants accepted donations. Her chapter sold $765 worth of paper chain links.

Cancer survivor Harold Goodrich showed up to walk. He said he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. Surgery to remove the cancer was 100 percent successful.

“I can walk several hours tonight,” Goodrich said. “It’s fun. The walkers all talk to each other and we read the luminaria as we walk by. “

Hundreds of luminaria, or paper lanterns, were hung all around the arena, many bearing the names of cancer survivors or those who have passed on.