By Marty Mayfield
The 2017 Colfax County Relay for Life got under way Saturday afternoon, July 15th and once again the rain clouds began to darken the skies over Raton. However, as in years past, it didn’t dampen the spirits of those who made their way into Tiger Stadium for the annual event.
So far this year the Colfax County Relay for Life has raised almost $30,000 to help those struck with the terrible disease of cancer. According to Liz Tafoya the Event Leader for this year’s relay, the Colfax County/Raton relay has raised about $500,000 in the 16 years it has been in held in Raton. In conversation with Tafoya she wanted people to understand that the monies collected at Relay go to research and education. Research that developed a drug that helped her brother live long enough to see his daughter married and to play with his grandchildren. Research that has helped a number of survivors to beat the disease. Education that has helped inform them about what to do when they are afflicted with cancer.
Tafoya noted in her welcome speech that after a planning meeting, scheduled for August, along with help from American Cancer Society grant writers, that will seek private funding, they hope to create a permanent oncology chair at MCMC. She hopes this will help alleviate some of the travel burden for patients and the problems associated with that.
Tafoya went on to talk about Relay for Life noting that is was at a relay some seven years ago that she was touched by what relay really meant. As she walked around the track looking at the names on the luminaries, she discovered names of family and friends that she was unaware had cancer or had even lost their battle with the disease. She also realized “that Relay for Life was something I had been missing that I did not know that I missed.” Today Tafoya is the Event Leader who didn’t want Relay for Life to end in Raton, and for that reason she took the job.
She said she was asked why she did this taking away time from her family because it is a lot of work. She noted there is passion in this work, there is love, there is hate, anger, and frustration but through it all there is hope. She noted her family is here that the time was taken away from a tv program, a nap, a moment of boredom, a glass of wine and a moment outside. She “likes to think of Relay for Life as a healthy vibrant body in motion”. “We all know the heart of Relay is the survivor, but the soul of Relay is the caregiver.” She ended her welcome address saying that “while you are talking the talk about cancer you also get to walk the walk”.
Later in the evening Debbie and Eric Armstrong gave the Survivor/Caregiver presentation this year doing it a little different by interviewing four different survivors in a talk show style event. Volunteers then began to fill the luminary bags with sand and place them around the track at Tiger Stadium. As the sun went down the luminary came to life and glowed well into the night. The 2017 Relay for Life ended with a movie and the closing ceremony at midnight.