Because cancer never sleeps

Walkers pass a large “hope” sign as they complete their final lap Saturday morning during the Relay For Life at Long Family Memorial Park in Grand Junction. Participants began their relay to raise money to fight cancer Friday evening and continued until 11 a.m. Saturday.

While many in Grand Junction slept in the wee hours of Saturday morning, several dozen people fought cancer.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life began at 6 p.m. Friday and lasted until 11 a.m. Saturday as a way to celebrate cancer survivors and simultaneously raise money to find a cure.

As expected, energy was high during the event’s beginning hours with the survivors walk and luminaria ceremony Friday.

However, the Relay for Life, which attracts hundreds of participants in the Grand Valley, is a 17-hour event.

Therefore, participating teams must not only find people to walk when the sun’s up but also between midnight and 5 a.m. when it is dark, energy levels have dropped, and people long to close their eyes.

But there were a few people awake in the solitude of 3 a.m. Saturday, draped in blankets and ready to walk at Long Family Memorial Park.

“The whole thing is, cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither do we,” Rachelle Kreie said.

With that, Kreie switched spots with her brother-in-law, Greg Williams, who pretty much ran laps from 11 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday.

The duo, along with other family members, were determined to complete the most laps of any team.

Kreie and Williams were part of the Karen’s Cruisers team. The group was formed on behalf of Karen Yutzy, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2006. She is in remission after surgeons removed the golf-ball sized tumor from her brain, and Yutzy endured 60 days of radiation.

Some days were better than other days, Kreie remembered of her mother’s fight against cancer.

Watching a parent fight cancer motivated Yutzy’s family, including several grandchildren, to form a Relay for Life team.

The 13 people on Karen’s Cruisers raised an estimated $3,000 to give to the American Cancer Society’s ongoing fight to find a cure.

Well, closer to $3,009 because Kreie’s daughter, Megan Kreie, 10, stepped up at the last minute to raise $9 for her grandmother’s team.

“I sold necklaces and bracelets,” Megan said.

In fact, other teams were still raising money at 3 a.m. Saturday.

The team from Choice Hotels International sold snow cones, hot dogs, cake and popcorn.

Ryan Frame, team captain for the team, said the snow cones were popular Friday night. By 3 a.m., with people wearing sweatshirts or blankets, the frozen treats weren’t as refreshing.

Frame had been at the Relay for Life since it began Friday and wasn’t going home until the sun came up Saturday. It was his fifth year as part of Relay for Life.

His grandmother is in remission from breast cancer.

Although his grandmother did not participate in Friday’s survivors walk as Yutzy did, Frame’s grandmother did her part to make the local Relay for Life a success this year.

“She wrote a check.” Frame said.


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