Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

Event brings in$69,000 to aidcancer research

Cancer never sleeps. And neither did members of the 30 teams rallying against cancer last weekend at the Del Norte High School track.

"We go camping once a year with our kids, and it's called Relay For Life," Laura Trujillo said she told her husband.

A seven-year cancer survivor, Trujillo joined with family and friends as Team Bueno for the overnight event that began Saturday morning and ended at 10 a.m. Sunday. According to volunteer organizer and cancer survivor Melanie Berry, $69,000 was raised this year.

The 24-hour campout and relay around the track "gives you the feeling of, 'I can do something,'" said Karen Haban, whose first Relay For Life, 17 years ago in Eureka, was inspired by the loss of a 28-year-old friend to cancer.

Team Haban won top team fund-raising honors, bringing in nearly $25,000 from year-long projects including a poker run, raffle and car washes.

Sarah Gregg was top individual fundraiser with $8,300.

In its 13th year in Del Norte County, the event that began in Tacoma, Wash., in 1985 challenges people to walk, jog or ride - in strollers, wagons or wheel chairs. At least one member of each team must be on the track at all times over a 24-hour period of time. Teams set up a small tent city complete with barbecues and fire pits and organized night games to help stay awake.

Nico Mavris, an attorney working for the Del Norte County District Attorney's Office, attempted to jog the entire 24 hours with Brad Holbrook, his buddy from Oregon. Mavris lasted 22 hours and ran more than 80 miles himself. He and Holbrook logged 150 miles together, Berry said.

The American Cancer Society says more than 11 million Americans alive today are cancer survivors. Local ACS representative Laura Read said over 200 local survivors participated in the often-emotional Survivors' Lap on Saturday afternoon, followed by dinner in their honor.

When darkness fell, the letters"H-O-P-E" lit up, as well as luminarias memorializing loved ones lost to cancer, supporting those fighting the disease and celebrating those who have beat it

Gertrude Madill, 86, a resident of Addie Meedom House, shared her personal survival story. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in her 20s and with leukemia eight years ago, Madill told the crowd gathered at the stage, "I am still here today. Being a survivor feels wonderful. I guess the Lord wasn't ready for me."

Donations to this year's Relay For Life will be accepted until Aug. 31. For more information contact Laura Read at 707-951 0582.

For more photos go to triplicate.com/mycapture and check triplicate.com for videos from the Relay For Life.