Cancer fundraiser makes return to Portales

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Tanya Baca, who is battling cancer, and her 3-year-old daughter, Emily, look at a display during the Relay for Life cancer research fundraiser at Greyhound Arena Friday night. The event lasted until 10 a.m. Saturday, and event chairwoman Cathy Hess said about 375 people had registered to participate as of noon Friday.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Tanya Baca is battling cancer.

She was also one of more than 350 people who gathered to raise money for cancer research with Relay for Life from 6 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. today at the Greyhound Arena in Portales.

“It touches my heart,” Baca said of the event. “It gives me faith that someday if my kids have to battle this disease, they won’t have to endure the challenges that I’ve had to because we’ll be closer to a cure.”

After a year’s hiatus, Portales’ version of the traditional American Cancer Society all-night fundraiser was back with about 375 people of all ages in more than 30 teams registered as of noon Friday, said Relay for Life committee Chairwoman Cathy Hess.

This year’s fundraising goal is $30,000, she said. Participants raise money before and during the event.

Among other things, people e-mailed donation requests and bought luminaries in honor or memory of cancer survivors and victims. During Relay for Life, they sold food and chances to play games, offered haircuts and paid to see a professional wrestling demonstration.

Teams also have representatives walking laps around the arena throughout the night.

“In a town like Portales, I think an event like this is really important because it gives them a chance to come together for a common goal,” Hess said. “But it’s also a social event.”

She said the event had gotten off to a good start.

Hess said she has been involved with Relay for Life since 2000 because of various family members who have had cancer. They include her mother, who died of the disease when Hess was 8, and her daughter-in-law, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January.

With cancer, Hess said, people can’t really know what’s going to happen or if doctors’ predictions will come to pass.

“And that’s why I want to find a cure for this disease: because it’s so unknown and so capricious,” she said.

Bill Parsons of Portales said he participates in Relay for Life every year because of family members who have died of cancer.

“Relay for Life is a cause to raise money to fund a cure for cancer, and people should do it if they haven’t already,” he said.