According to initial figures, the Elmore County Relay for Life chapter raised more than $39,000 during the all-night event that started Friday evening at the Glenns Ferry High School track.
With more money still coming in, organizers expect this year's relay will raise the largest amount of money since its inception eight years ago.
Seeking to fight back against the disease one step at a time, the event helped celebrate the lives of cancer survivors and to honor the memories of those who lost their battle against the disease.
But Relay for Life represents something else -- the hope that the disease will one day be eradicated, organizers said. Money raised from annual Relay for Life events gives the American Cancer Society the ability to continue with research, education and programs for cancer patients.
This year's Relay for Life kicked off Friday evening with welcoming speeches from relay chairwoman Jan Landon, Relay for Life Gold Level Team Captain Marcella Truba and Glenns Ferry Mayor JoAnne Lanham. Lanham thanked the Relay for Life committee for allowing Glenns Ferry the privilege to host the event for the first time in the chapter's eight-year history.
Relay for Life is a worldwide event where individuals keep up the fight to find a cure for cancer, "because we believe we can find a cure," Landon said.
Following welcoming presentations, cancer survivors and their caretakers made the first lap around the track with music blared from loudspeakers.
Among those making this initial lap was Marsha Sellers of Mountain Home, who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 50. Her first reaction upon receiving the report was one of disbelief.
"I'm a nurse; it couldn't happen to me, and I have a good lifestyle," Marsha recalled.
"We didn't know where this was going, but we did catch it early," said her husband, Bob Sellers.
After six weeks of chemotherapy, five days a week, Sellers has a 95 percent chance of survival.
"That's good enough for me," she said. "You just take it a day at a time, and you trust the doctors."
Because she found the lump in her breast early on, Sellers remains a staunch advocate of monthly self-examinations.
"Do it on the date of your birthday" every month, she said.
Marcella Trueba, was a Relay for Life gold level team captain, who helped raise more than $1,000 for this year's relay effort. It's her desire to find a cure to help people like her son, Jack, who continues to battle leukemia.
With Jack currently going through his fourth round of chemotherapy, his mother dreams of a world without cancer. Her young son represents the inspiration that keeps her fighting for a cure. Trueba's team Journey for Jack in honor of her son, raised the most money for this year's relay.
This year's event also held special significance for people like Gabby Montelongo-Arevalo, lost five members of her family due to cancer over the past year. Among them was her sister, Cristina, who died at the age of 39 from breast cancer. Another member of her family is still battling the disease.
To endure the tragedy that struck her family, Montelongo-Arevalo drew strength from God and her family. During last weekend's relay, that strength allowed her to log in 27 miles. Her walking partner, Paloma Jaraz, who will enter her junior year at Glenns Ferry High School this year, kept up the pace during that trek.
At the end of each lap, walkers received a purple or white bead. Purple represented a quarter mile with white beads presented each mile.
For people like Montelongo-Arevalo, it was the first time they participated in the Relay for Life. Looking back, she considered the experience "awesome" with plans to do it again next year.
"I'm so relieved that there is more cancer awareness in Glenns Ferry" and that so many community members participated in the event," said Donna Fain, whose son, Tommy, died from cancer.
Of the 31 teams that registered for the event, about half were from Glenns Ferry.
After sunset, relay organizers hosted this year's luminaria ceremony. Illuminated white paper bags circled the inner edge of the high school track. Each bag was decorated by registered participants, survivors or caretakers. Many of the luminaries bore the name of a loved one who was either a cancer survivor or lost the battle against the disease. For a good portion of the event, these luminaries provided the only illumination for walkers as they held a silent memorial vigil.
Landon, too, was happy about this year's Relay for Life and the number of people who participated. There was someone on the track the entire night.
"That's the real spirit of relay because cancer never sleeps," she said.
During the closing moments of last weekend's Relay for Life, Robin Hatfield, Relay for Life mission delivery and advocacy chairwoman, expressed the relay's true essence.
"We relay so that we can celebrate cancer survivors," she said. "We find a place of common understanding when we come here as survivors and join others who have faced the same disease. At the same time, we also celebrate the lives of people we've lost. We remember the journey we walked with our loved ones, and we relay to keep their memory alive."
In addition to celebrating the lives of those still fighting the disease and remembering those who lost the battle, "we are motivated to do something... to make sure no one else we care about, or no one else we know has to face this disease," she added. "We are here, together, to fight back."
Last week's event consisted of more than walking. Gabby Claudia Guerrero, Jessica Crane, Letty Guiterrez and Sara Swan held two Zumba sessions.
Meanwhile, others held competitions, including a frozen T-shirt contest, noodle and ball race, scavenger hunt and a blind folded version of musical chairs.
All donations collected by Relay for Life team members, including registration fees and income from the sale of food or other items during the event, directly benefit to the American Cancer Society for education, research and other programs. Funds to hold the annual relay are made possible through corporate contributions.