Walk of life

CNJ Staff photo: Andy DeLisle Cancer survivors line up for the first lap at the Clovis Relay for Life at Ned Houk Park outside of Clovis on Friday night.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The sun set on the thousands at Clovis’ Ned Houk Park, but the laps, laughs and memories continued throughout the night at the Clovis Relay for Life.

The park hosted the annual fund-raiser, as approximately 2,000 people on 87 teams walked and found extra ways to raise money for the American Cancer Society and research.

“The reason we do this at night,” event organizer Rebecca Holt said in the final stretch of sunlight, “is cancer never sleeps, and we don’t want to either.”

Teams, large and small, got together trying to “catch a cure,” as the theme went.

The track around the park was marked with nearly 3,500 luminarias, which were lighted during an 8:30 p.m. ceremony as a list was read of those who lost the fight against cancer.

An inside part of the track was dedicated to nearly 400 luminarias for cancer survivors, who took the ceremonial first lap.

Members from each of the teams took turns keeping their teams involved, with at least one member walking the track over the duration of the event.

The fund-raising goal is $107,000 for this year, up from the $72,000 the event raised last year. Holt said it was a lofty goal, but “money is going to help find a cure.”

The night was full of events for children and adults, as the space in the center of the track hosted impromptu football games and musical acts entertained on the main stage.

Small and big teams worked alike, finding different ways to raise money in addition to their entry fees. A team sponsored by Hobby Lobby employees had a cakewalk.

Instead of full-sized cakes, the team gave away Little Debbie’s snack cakes. On a patch of grass in front of the team’s table were eight spots arranged in a circle, team captain Mary Lomax said. Participants walked in a circle while music played, and whoever was on the number drawn when the music ended won a box of the treats. Otherwise, people could pay $1 for one dessert.

Lomax said it was much easier than an actual cake for each person, and proof even small ideas can raise big funds for cancer research.

“It’s really simple,” Lomax said. “We don’t have them carrying (big cakes). They’re all individually wrapped. They can get a box and carry it on the way.”

There were also big teams and big efforts, including a whopping 15-team showing from Cannon Air Force Base. Col. Ken Hall said the 27th Fighter Wing has been happy to be a part of the event, as the base prepares to transition into Special Operations.

“No matter what you know us by next year,” Hall said, “the men and women of Cannon Air Force Base are going to be here as we wage the battle. We’re always up for a good fight.”