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Relay for Life draws crowd of supporters

The weekend’s 2013 Relay for Life of Rio Rancho raised over $35,000 to support the American Cancer Society’s campaign to save lives from cancer, organizers said.

More than 372 people on 30 teams participated in the annual 12-hour relay, held indoors at the Santa Ana Star Center. Teams were comprised of areas families, faith-based groups, businesses, clubs and other organizations.

“Through their hard work in preparing for the event, and by spending hours walking for the cause, Rio Rancho residents certainly did their part to help the American Cancer Society create a world with less cancer and more birthdays,” volunteer sponsorship chair Joyce Beach said.

The traditional Survivors and Caregivers Lap kicked off the event about 7 p.m. Friday. The event ended at 7 Saturday morning. Local entertainment and activities for all ages, including a rock wall, Alice-in-Wonderland-style croquet and a karaoke party, kept the overnight hours lively.


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“We had just a fabulous evening Friday night,” Beach said. “It was wonderful.”

Volunteer event chair Caroline Gallegos was this year’s top fundraiser, collecting $5,368.50 in donations. The runner-up was Hunter Watson, who raised $5,248, followed by Brian Gonzales, who collected $2,595.

Gallegos led Team FUHL, the top fund-raising team in the event with $9,033.50 in donations. Lucky Duckys was runner-up at $5,333, followed by Our Lady Queen of Angels, which raised $3,340.72.

Local sponsors helped make the event possible.

Silver sponsors, which donated $1,000 or more, were Presbyterian The Cancer Center, VFW Post 401 and UNM Sandoval County Regional Medical Center. Bronze sponsors, which donated $500 or more were, VFW Post 5890, American Express, Don Chalmers Ford and Papa Murphy’s Pizza.

In-kind sponsors were JB Henderson Construction, Pet Food Gone Wild, Latitudes, the Rio Rancho Observer, Walgreen’s, Blake’s, Target, Starbucks, Presbyterian-Rust Medical Center, City of Rio Rancho, Hilton Garden Inn, Chili’s and Santa Ana Star Center.

It was the first time the Rio Rancho event was held at an indoor venue.

“We got nothing but raves about being inside,” Beach said, noting the wind was blowing hard about the time the relay started Friday. “There was just dust everywhere. There was no way you could set up a tent.”

This year’s fundraising was down some from last year when 48 teams helped raised $54,000 in donations.