Nearly five out of every 1,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Of those five, two will die of the disease. Cancer remains the second largest killer after heart disease, accounting for nearly one in four deaths. Nearly all of us know someone who has had cancer, and most of us know someone who died from the disease.

While cancer remains a killer, advances in treatment have actually made possible a reduction in both new diagnoses and mortality rates for the past six years. Awareness, early diagnosis, and new treatments and procedures have helped lower these rates. Newly released federal statistics show that new diagnoses for all types of cancer decreased almost 1% per year on average from 1999 to 2006, while cancer deaths decreased 1.6% per year from 2001 to 2006. It certainly isn’t the elimination of cancer, but it is a reason to believe that efforts to eradicate the disease have shown real promise.

The American Cancer Society has been at the forefront of not only research for a cure, but also promoting awareness of the disease and assistance for those who are afflicted. Each year, communities large and small around the USA unite in an effort called Relay for Life. April 9 is the date for the main event here in the Middle Keys, but that’s not what we’re here to promote this week.

This Saturday, January 23, the City of Marathon’s Relay for Life team will host the second annual Dancing with the Stars event at 6:30 p.m. at the Key Colony Inn.

The beautiful Pavilion at the Key Colony Inn is the venue for what’s become a very popular fund-raiser. Yours truly will be the MC for the event, and my band Storm Watch will provide the beats to which one can boogie. I can tell you that we’re really looking forward to this event. (I can also tell you that being a musician has saved my less-than graceful self from having to dance on numerous occasions, and for that I’m eternally grateful.)

Connie and Clara from the City Team have dredged up – I mean invited – a roster of local dance stars that each will be competing to see who can raise the most money for the City’s Relay Team.

Here’s a partial list: Jo Ann Wagner, Centennial Bank; Jason Koler, The Weekly Newspaper; Mandy Rodriguez, Dolphin Research Center; James Malmquist, City of Marathon Fire Rescue; Rudy Rodriguez, City of Marathon Fire Rescue; Marcos Orozco, City of Marathon Fire Rescue; Jodie Devitt, City of Marathon Fire Rescue; Libby Frazier, City of Marathon Utilities; Rewa Maldonado, City of Marathon Code; Ron Wampler, City of Marathon Building; George Garrett, City of Marathon Planning; Ginger Snead, City of Marathon Mayor; and Mike Cinque, City of Marathon Vice-Mayor.

There will be prizes for the best dancing couples in the categories of Twist, Swing, and Freestyle, and the winning Star will also get a special prize. Please remember that you don’t have to dance in order to help out. It might be very fun to come out, make a donation, and just watch our local Stars dance! Of course, it’s a great excuse to enjoy the stellar food and libations that the Key Colony Inn serves every day.

Please mark the date – January 23, and the place – the Key Colony Inn, on whatever paper or digital device holds your schedule. Then be prepared to come out and cut a rug, shake your bootie, and dance the night away… with the Stars!

You can make donations in advance to your favorite dancing Star, or to Connie and Clara with the City Relay Team. For more information, call Clara at 743-5266, or Connie at 289-4116.

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