About 50 Nevadans, wearing white t-shirts marking them as cancer survivors, walked the first lap on the Carson High School track Saturday evening to kick off the Relay for Life.
Their measured pace wasn't a comment on their health, for they were every bit as vigorous as a hundred other participants in the event.
But the parade of survivors was also an acknowledgement that many do not survive the disease. Some 400 white paper luminaries were passed by the survivors. Each luminary bore the name of someone who had died of cancer.
At dusk, a candle was lit in each luminary as Rick James played on his bagpipe and the hundreds of names were ready in a memorial to the fallen.
Twenty relay teams entered the event, in which team members will take turns circling the track for 16 hours, until 10 a.m. today.
Teams range in size from 90 on the Carson-Tahoe Hospital employees' and cancer survivors' team to groups as small as three, Relay for Life chairman Pat Williams said.
"Over the course of the event, we're having survivors get up to speak, not so much about the cancer, but about how their lives are now, about the silver lining around the experience of cancer," said Williams, who is himself a six-year survivor of prostate cancer and is active in the society's Man-to-Man educational program.
"For myself, there was a change inside me. My concern for the future and the past has been minimized to make room for the growth of living in the present, living right now."
The event is a fund-raiser for the Cancer Society and returned to Carson City after a few years' absence.
Some walkers participated in their night wear, with a pajama fashion show conducted at midnight.
As the walkers took turns, they also participated in activities like cakewalks and were entertained by the Back in Time and Lane Garrison Blue Grass bands.
The Sunset Rotary Club provided dinner for the cancer survivors, while breakfast was made possible through the donations of several local companies. Margie Brand and Lisa Dixon, licensed massage therapists from Chi Therapeutic Massage, volunteered their services Saturday evening and again in the morning to keep participants loosened up for the relay.
Marjorie Meimberg, a four-month survivor of breast cancer, said she and about 20 other people came from Yerington to participate in the relay. She was busy helping set up the hundreds of luminaries, which each represented a $10 donation to honor the memory of a cancer victim.
Sponsorships for each team also helped raise funds for the Society's research.
Teams represented local businesses, service clubs, government agencies, like the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation, and health care organizations. Local political candidates like Tom and John Tatro, Jeanne Simons and Bonnie Parnell also joined in.
American Cancer Society