Walking miles to bring awareness

Luminaria bags, which honor someone who survived cancer or died from the disese, light up the track.

Luminaria bags, which honor someone who survived cancer or died from the disese, light up the track.

A small group of walkers trekked almost 30 miles along the Reno Highway from Fernley to Fallon on Friday to draw awareness for this year’s Relay for Life.

Starting early in the morning and finishing the walk at the Churchill County Middle School shortly after 5 p.m., the volunteers — each with numerous pledges and memories of either friends or family who have had or died from cancer — slowly walked onto the Churchill County Middle School’s track infield before collapsing from exhaustion. Heather Lacow, who walked the distance last year, said more people also wanted to bring awareness by walking between the two cities.

“We had three last year, and this year 11 made the walk,” Lacow said. “We had an assortment of people.”

Additional volunteers manned vehicles to provide safety and water.

The walk highlighted the dedication many people have in bringing more awareness to cancer through Rely for Life, that took place from 6 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday.

“Most walked in memory of someone who had cancer,” Lacow said of the journey that took about 11 hours to complete. “This is a short pain compared to what cancer survivors go through.”

Diana Richards of Fernley, a special needs aide who grew up in Fallon, said she learned of the walk from Heather’s husband, Brian.

“I’ve lost a few friends to cancer,” she said, noting she also honored her friends Kelly Helton, a breast-cancer survivor, and Terry Rogne, who succumbed to cancer last year.

Richards sat in the shade after the walk, nursing her feet. She’s undecided about walking between Fernley and Fallon next year.

The walk for Ryan Robinson served as a memory of his friendship with two classmates from Fernley, Jayme King, a standout softball player for both the Vaqueros and the University of Nevada Wolf Pack, and Wendy Tustin. Both women died from cancer.

Robinson was one of three people who made the walk last year and wanted to do it again.

“It was cooler, but it (the walk) seemed harder,” he said. “I’m glad it’s over, but the walk was very rewarding.”

Robinson received $400 in pledges for both King and Tustin.

While the walkers gave a big boost to the Fallon Relay for Life’s opening, this year’s organizers struggled to obtain the number of teams or sponsors from previous years.

“This is a huge event, but they struggled to get volunteers,” said Tara Wise, community manager for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Northern Nevada. “I’m not sure why we couldn’t get them.”

With so many events planned for almost every weekend during the summer, Wise said the local Relay for Life committee may have to reinvigorate the Fallon event with a different approach, such as having a 12-hour relay from early into the morning until early in the evening.

Brandee McCoy, a volunteer who has been involved with the Fallon Relay for Life for 15 years, served as the event’s chairwoman for her second year.

McCoy said 14 teams signed up to participate, but only eight showed up to set up their tents and have at least one walker on the track at all times. When the committee solicited pledges and donations, she said her committee members discovered many businesses had changed their priorities and were donating more money to local organizations.

McCoy said the committee will know later this month how much money was raised for the local Relay for Life.


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