Relay for Life kicks off at Navajo Prep

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — Aztec residents Jackson Hull and Megan Neil have participated in the Relay for Life for years, but today's event was especially poignant for the two neighbors.

Cancer survivors walk across the football field Saturday during the Relay for Life at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington.

Neil was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in February, and Hull was diagnosed with kidney cancer in March. Following surgery, both Hull and Neil are cancer free, and this year, they walked in the Relay for Life as survivors rather than community members.

The Relay for Life is an annual event that raises money for the American Cancer Society for cancer research. Six teams participated in the Relay for Life of San Juan County today at Navajo Preparatory School, and organizers hope that next year will bring even more teams to raise money for cancer research.

The event started with a survivors walk, and caregivers met the survivors halfway through the lap with two balloons in their hands.

Lindell Wright waited for his mother at the halfway point with his daughter, 9-year-old Amaya Wright. Betty Wright was diagnosed with lymphoma in October and is now in remission. Lindell Wright retired from his job as a detective for the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Office so he could take care of her.

A caregiver carries a balloon Saturday during the survivors and caregivers lap of the Relay for Life at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington.

"It was a tough trek for her," he said.

Amanda Radosevich, a nurse at the San Juan Regional Medical Center, spoke about being a caregiver prior to the start of the walk. When she was 7 years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she said.

"I could hear the trembling in my father's voice as he told us the news," Radosevich said.

More than 30 years later, her mother is now cancer free, and Radosevich has cared for many other cancer patients — not only in her family but also as a nurse at the hospital. She encouraged caregivers to support each other.

"We are not designed to carry these burdens alone," she said.

Tre Pennington, 5, and Aaliyah Pennington, 7, set up luminarias along the track Saturday in preparation for the Relay for Life at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington.

The event was scheduled to also feature a luminaria ceremony with participants walking through the night before the relay ends at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.