Marge Woodfin, Pilot staff writer

Rita Dotson, 2010 Relay for Life Grand Marshall has an unbeatable supporter, her husband, Sam Dotson. Sam has challenged all comers to catch him as he walks the track July 9 and 10 with a goal of walking one mile for every year of his wife's 33 years cancer survival.

Grateful for his wife's survival, Sam wants to help fulfill the 2010 Relay for Life goal to "Close the Book on Cancer." Money raised by the Relay over the years, beginning in 1985, continues to fund research and make advances in life-saving treatment for cancer victims.

Rita's message to all cancer victims is, "Never give up. Win the battle." She admits that she was scared when her cancer was first diagnosed, and she dreaded the wait for test results during the first five years when she was tested every three months.

Rita, who is the health information manager at Curry Good Samaritan, said, "Through the years I have had the opportunity to console and comfort loved ones in the aftermath of losing family members, and I want to help close the book on cancers."

As Rita leads the Relay opening Survivors' Lap around the Brookings Harbor High School football field July 9, Brookings participants will be joining more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities across the United States in the fight to save lives.

Rhonda Gardenheir, 2010 Curry Relay for Life Event Chair, earlier announced goals for this year's Relay, 100 cancer survivors in Survivors' Lap, with 25 participating teams, and $42,000 in donations for cancer research.

Gardenheir is excited about the response so far because the 2010 Relay has already received $25,000 in donations and pledges, 80 survivors have registered for the lap, and 10 teams are making plans for campsites and decorating batons.

Gardenheir said the business community has really stepped forward this year, with corporate donations already exceeding the total amounts received in the last four years, including a number of individual businesses that are donating as much as $2,500.

Gardenheir said she looks forward to again seeing the football field filled with decorated campsites and team members walking the circle for the 24 hours filled with fun, frolic festivities, fellowship, and faith that the funds raised will contribute to truly "Close the Book on Cancer."

Everyone who has a loved one who has survived or lost the battle with cancer will want to participate in the Luminaria, honoring those loved ones by lighting one of the candle-filled luminaries that will be bordering the field.

In the meantime, Sam has been preparing for his all night walk by hiking 10 different wilderness areas and choosing changes of his most comfortable shoes and a supply of clean, dry socks, and he's ready to go.

There's still time to form a team, or join one, and be part of this special community event that is so important in the fight against cancer. All those not yet involved are encouraged to contact Gardenheir at 541-661-2317 to join this special event.