The University of New Mexico recently hosted 25 teams for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) annual Relay for Life (RFL), and even though inclement weather forced the event to relocate, spirits remained high in support of university community members and others touched by cancer.

The run/walk, originally scheduled for Johnson Field, included 25 teams and more than 200 participants, all of whom relocated into Johnson Gym when the inclement weather moved in. Despite the weather, the event began with an Opening Ceremony, a Survivor’s Lap, a Caregiver’s Lap and then followed by a Team Lap. 

UNM’s team, led by Kathy McKinstry, raised $5,917, just a bit short of its $6,000 goal. The remaining teams added their share for a growing total of $13,410 with pledges still being turned in.

The UNM team, which also included Celeste Cole, Thomas Cole, TC Chavez, Renee Delgado-Riley, Lois Kennedy, Mark Reynolds, Jennifer Serrano, Shareen Siegrist and Jennifer Lee Trujillo, adopted a 70s theme, wore gray and purple Relay for Life T-shirts with "Hope" emblazoned across the front, tie-dye bandanas and took turns “driving” a tie-dye neon car around the gym.

They also provided support for the effort and reached out to thousands of friends, family, staff to make this a great event with notable donations for a great cause.

“In an effort to support our staff, faculty and students touched by cancer, Relay For Life was an event where we will continue to build community and support one another,” said Staff Council President Renee Delgado-Riley.

One of the more poignant moments came later in the evening with a Luminaria Ceremony where the track was lined with lit luminarias that people had decorated in memory of a loved one lost to cancer or in celebration of a survivor.

The RLF was established 30 years ago when Dr. Gordy Klatt of Tacoma, Wash. walked and ran around his local track for 24 hours to raise funds for ACS 30 years ago. It has since grown into a global event.