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Relay for Life Falcon/Peyton raises more than $28,700

Glancing around the Falcon High School track underneath an azure sky, Joyce Clapham, Relay for Life Falcon/Peyton event lead had a wide smile on her face.ìI’ve never had this much help setting up before,î Clapham said.From across the field on Saturday, Aug. 20, she watched as Falcon High School students with the Student Crew, JClub, JROTC and Key Club prepared the track for the Relay for Life Falcon/Peyton event kickoff.Just after noon, Christina Breiner, the ìpeople lead,î joined Clapham in welcoming participants to the event, which marked the 31st year of the Relay.To a crowd of cancer survivors, caregivers, friends and family, Clapham said, ìWeíre very excited to bring you together in the fight against cancer. Relay is 31 years strong, and it would not be strong without each and every one of you.ìAll of you are the American Cancer Society. Itís not just this large national organization, but it really is a grassroots organization … serving all of the people … here today.îRelay for Life is the American Cancer Societyís largest annual fundraiser, Breiner said.Gathering in front of a banner that read, ìThere is no finish line until we find a cure,î survivors and caretakers took to the track to officially start the event, which ran for 12 hours through midnight.As they finished the first lap, the crowd cheered loudly; and Breiner talked about the survivors.ìTheyíve endured days of illness, medical appointments, tears, surgery, fear of the unknown ó all kinds of things. Yet, theyíre still here with us today, and we want to honor their crusade,î Breiner said.Randy and Shelly Cuellar and their daughters, Samantha, age 15, and Grace, age 7, understand the battle against cancer. At just 6 months old, firstborn Samantha was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor located in the cerebellum.According to the American Brain Tumor Associationís website, ìMedulloblastoma is relatively rare, accounting for less than 2 percent of all primary brain tumors and 18 percent of all pediatric brain tumors. More than 70 percent of all pediatric medulloblastomas are diagnosed in children under age 10. Very few occur in children up to age 1.îDoctors tried to prepare the young parents for the road ahead.ìIt was really overwhelming. I remember our little baby going through a10-hour surgery; and, after that, going through chemo; and 10 months later going through another major eight-to-10 hour surgery,î Randy Cuellar said. The next three to five years were about working hard on the path to recovery, he added.ìWe had so many people and organizations come alongside us,î Cuellar said. ìYou canít do it on your own Ö you need people to surround you.îTen years later, they noticed signs in Grace, who was 2 years old at the time. Concerned, Randy said he and Shelly spoke to doctors and told them their history. Doctors assured the couple they were ìover-concerned.îìThey said, ëThis type of tumor is not genetic. Thereís no way it strikes twice,íî Cuellar said.But Shelly, with ìmomís intuition,î refused to give up, he said. They urged doctors to take a closer look, and soon they discovered that Grace also had medulloblastoma.Their story has a happy ending. Samantha has been cancer-free for 10 years and Grace for five.ìAs a family whoís been through this thing twice, itís amazing how different our experience was 10 years ago … . Technology, science and medicine have completely advanced. Itís honestly because of organizations like this,î Cuellar said.As of Aug. 23, 20 Relay for Life Falcon/Peyton teams and134 participants raised $28,712.51 for the event, according to its website.The top individual fundraiser, Diane Saign, raised $3,804.22 with her Relay team, Golfing for a Cancer Cure. Saign held her fourth annual Golfing for a Cancer Cure Golf Tournament July 31.The money she raised benefited the Relay for Life and American Cancer Societyís cancer research, programs and services for cancer patients, caregivers and survivors.The top-earning Relay team, Joshís Crew, brought in $5,713 for the cause.Other highlights of the family-friendly event included the Luminaria and Fight Back ceremonies, which honor loved ones who have lost their battles with cancer and those still fighting the disease.Additionally, the Falcon High School choir sang the National Anthem; the FHS JROTC presented the colors and the FHS cheer squad performed.Relay for Life Falcon/Peyton would like to thank the following sponsors:Presenting sponsors: Fox 21 and SoCo CWPlatinum sponsors: iHeart Radio Sunny 106.3 and Mountain View Electric AssociationGold sponsors: Falcon High School and District 49Silver sponsors: Colorado Springs Winnelson Co. and JAKs Brewing Co.Bronze sponsors: Thunderbolt Builders, Guadalajara Mexican Family Restaurant, The New Falcon Herald and Farmers State BankSignature sponsors: The Furnace Guy, Happy Heart Homes, Rescued Hearts, Falcon Property Solutions, Flowers Flowers etc., Firehouse Subs, Dionís Pizza and the Falcon High School JROTCRelay for Life Falcon/Peyton also thanks everyone who donated their time and services for this event.

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