By Christina Sawyer

Since the early 1990s, the cancer death rate has declined by 22 percent. The five-year cancer survival rate is now at 68 percent, up 12 percent since the first National Cancer Survivors Day in 1987. Thanks to improved detection and treatment, more people than ever before are surviving cancer and going on to lead inspirational, productive lives after cancer.

There are about 14.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today, a number that is expected to grow to almost 19 million by 2024, due to advances in early detection and treatment. Relay For Life volunteers are passionate about fighting cancer and have a deep interest in the work the American Cancer Society is doing to make an impact

The above statistics are due in part to thousands of small communities, just like Ely, that host a Relay For Life event. The money raised at a Relay For Life event is used by the American Cancer Society to help fund cancer research.

The answers found in that research are helping them reach survival numbers previously thought impossible. But Relay walkers know that nothing is impossible so they take to the track, they raise money and they share the mission of Relay For Life.

Back in June, the Event Leadership team honored local survivors at a tree planting ceremony in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day. Team Great Basin College donated this year’s tree and Economy drug treated all that attended to an ice cream social.

On July 9, hundreds of Ely residents, family and friends took the field at Broadbent Park, where they celebrated local survivors, learned more about the programs and services offered locally by the American Cancer Society, and celebrated life.

Once again KDSS MC’d the event with great commentary and music. Whether you took one lap or 100, everyone shared a single mission; raising money to find a cure. You could easily identify the event’s HOPE CLUB members who were all wearing an event t-shirt.

These folks earned this shirt by raising a minimum of $100. Event sponsors were listed on the back of the shirt, including Greater Nevada Credit Union, Newmont Mine, Mt. Wheeler Power, and IBEW Local 1245 just to name a few.

The local event was hosted by nine teams this year and 107 registered participants. These teams have been working for months, planning fundraising events or just bringing awareness. Together they raised nearly $24,000.

Events like the Father Daughter Ball by team Fight Like A Kid, the cake decorating contest and car wash by team ESP or even the weight loss challenge hosted by team Anytime Fitness, all helped bring awareness of cancer risks and how to fight back.

As folks trekked for 12 hours around the track, teams like Greater Nevada Credit Union, Team Sue Gulley and the Cancer Clucks made sure no one went hungry, serving up a feast for just a few bucks.

Team Cancer Cluck had been serving up chicken wings for months leading up to the event and took the lead in fundraising with a total of $5,000 by the end of the event.

While this year’s Relay season is behind us, it’s not too late to make a donation. You can still visit the website: www.relayforlife.org/elynv and support the local event.

As more people survive cancer, resources to help survivors live healthier after cancer and manage long- and late-term side effects of cancer treatment become a vital part of the recovery.

If you are a cancer survivor, check out these resources: Cancer.org/survivors — with survivorship resources during and after treatment; Csn.cancer.org — Cancer Survivors Network for support; Cancer.org/— support information about ACS programs and services.

Cancer fears the walker. Beginning next month, the local event leadership team will be recruiting teams for the 2017 event. Consider starting a family, workplace or corporate team and help your local Relay For Life event raise money, awareness and more importantly, fund a cure for cancer.

Contact Faye Cavender at 296-0263 to make your commitment to being a part of ending cancer.

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