Relay for Life planned Aug. 2-3 at EVHS | VailDaily.com

Relay for Life planned Aug. 2-3 at EVHS

Cancer is a pervasive disease, not only in the bodies it attacks but also for the communities it affects.

"You can't find someone in the Eagle Valley who hasn't been affected by cancer or who doesn't know someone who has," said 2014 local Relay for Life organizer Paul Witt.

Survivors often speak of strength gained from support of families and friends as they waged their personal battles against cancer. The Relay for Life effort — a fund-raising concept that has generated more than $450 million since its inception — reflects that spirit of support. During a Relay for Life, team members camp out at an athletic track and keep at least one member walking around a set course through an entire evening, through the night and until the following morning. The effort symbolizes the long fight and constant effort to battle cancer. Teams collect pledges for their walk and the money generated then supports cancer research and treatment programs both locally and world wide.

But on a more personal level, the Relay for Life is an affirmation that lives continue on after cancer hits and that memories of cancer victims remain vivid. The Witt family is a striking example of the disease's reach. Back in 1988, Mary Witt lost her leg to cancer while she was still in her early 20s. Two years ago, her mother died from the disease. These personal experiences convinced the Witts to head up the organization of the 2014 event in Eagle County.

"Relay for Life draws attention to the progress being made by the American Cancer Society and the work yet to be done," said Mary Witt. "Many participants are our family, friends and neighbors who have faced cancer themselves. And we have many who, like myself, are cancer survivors themselves. Each new team that registers brings us that much closer to finishing the fight against cancer."

Community event

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The Relay for Life is conducted in a celebratory, not sober, environment.

"This is a great community event. It is a great way to see people who you haven't seen for awhile and spend some time together," said Paul Witt.

The Eagle County Relay for Life is planned Saturday through Sunday, Aug. 2-3. The action begins at 6 p.m. with local cancer survivors taking the first trip around the track. The relay will then continue until 7 a.m. Sunday morning.

"The biggest thing we need right now is teams," said Witt. He noted the ideal size for a team is around 10 people to ensure someone is always out on the track.

"You don't have to decide your team members right now, but if you want to be a team captain, we would like to hear from you."

Witt said team captains are the chief cheerleaders for their respective groups. They also spearhead donation collections and attend to various administrative details. Captains are urged to post updates on social media and plan their own fund-raising projects. Anyone interested in becoming a team captain is urged to visit http://www.relayforlife.org/eagleco.

For volunteers who don't want to captain a team, but who are interested in participating, that same site will take you to a team sign-up option.

"If there are survivors out there who are interested in participating in the event, the suvivor recognition happens at the very beginning of the relay," said Witt.

For additional information about the Eagle County Relay for Life, visit the event's Facebook page at Relay for Life of Eagle County or contact Witt by email at pwitt@vail.net or by phone at 970-471-5380.