Lori Kloepper battled breast cancer twice and won.
Her victory lap at last year's Relay For Life fundraiser still brings tears to her eyes.
"It was probably one of the best things I've ever gotten chosen to do - one of the proudest moments," Kloepper said.
With friends and family cheering her on, Kloepper carried the torch during the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser.
"You're a survivor," she said about the experience. "You've been through this horrific five years of treatment. You're hoping that you're at the end of your battle. Seeing everyone stand up around the track. They clap as you walk by. It's just great."
Cancer survivors and others will take to the track again this year. The 2008 Relay For Life begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Free State High School.
More than 800 people are expected to participate in the Douglas County portion of the fundraiser. More than 3.5 million people participate nationally.
The event draws survivors, their friends and family, and others hoping to make a difference, organizers said.
Last year's event raised more than $170,000 for cancer research, up from about $150,000 the prior year.
"We have seen steady growth as long as we have been involved in it," co-chairwoman Tina Yates said.
But organizers still hope the relay continues to grow. In recent years, the relay has changed from one that runs in various communities throughout the county to a single event in Lawrence. Organizers hope to attract more participants from surrounding communities, they said.
Cancer survivors make the first lap of the relay. And the event continues overnight, concluding at 7 a.m. A highlight is a luminaria ceremony at dusk. Luminarias line the track and burn throughout the event, honoring cancer survivors and victims, and serving as a reminder of the importance of supporting cancer research.
Kloepper, whose cancer was diagnosed in 2001, said the relay was a special event that raised awareness for an important cause and was meaningful for participants.
"Everyone at the relay supports everyone else," she said. "It's just an awesome experience."