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Local Relay For Life events kick off

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Relay for Life
Photo courtesy of American Cancer Society. Participants in the Relay for Life are working towards creating a world where cancer is no longer a threat.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life  features teams of people camp out at a local high school, park or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track.  Each team has a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, relays are overnight up to 24 hours in length. The environment is family-friendly with food, games and activities providing entertainment and fundraising opportunities.

The majority of the fundraising, however, is done during the months leading up to the event. Everyone’s reason to become involved with Relay is unique as their own personal story. Some people have faced cancer themselves. Others have lost a loved one to the disease or have a friend, co-worker or family member currently battling it.

Each person who participates knows they are working towards creating a world where this disease is no longer a threat to our existence.

Money raised from the event goes to cancer research, patient services, advocacy and education.

Some of American Cancer Society’s programs that help cancer patients and their families include “Our Road to Recovery,” which provides rides to patients who have no way to get to their cancer treatment; “Look Good … Feel Better,” a project that uses trained volunteer cosmetologists to teach women how to cope with skin changes and hair loss with specific cosmetics and skin care products donated by the cosmetic industry and “Reach to Recovery,” a service which matches breast cancer patients with volunteers who have had the disease and can share their insights about coping strategies.

There’s also The American Cancer Society’s “Cancer Survivor College Scholarship Program,” an opportunity designed to provide young cancer patients/survivors assistance in pursuing higher education from an accredited school.

Many communities are currently in the process of kicking off their Relay For Life events. Though the actual events won’t happen until later on in the year, teams are starting to form and begin their fundraising efforts.

Locally, there are two relays: Relay For Life of Northshore (June 2 at Skyview Jr. High) and new this year, Relay For Life of Juanita-Woodinville (May 19 at Juanita High School).

The Northshore Relay, which for several years was known as the Woodinville Relay, had 73 teams and a total of 800 participants in 2011. They raised $170,000.

“The Northshore Relay had the most overall percentage growth in the area,” says Tamara Judy, community relationship manager for the American Cancer Society. “Their fundraising goal was $105,000 and they beat that by $65,000, which is remarkable.”

Judy explains that the Northshore Relay has become more youth-focused with high school and junior high students comprising 80 percent of the participants. She adds that Relay For Life events as a whole have increased in number over the years in King County. This year, there will be 23 relays held with an overall fundraising goal of $2.55 million.

“We raised $2.4 million last year,” she notes, “so obviously, we’re reaching higher this year.” Judy explains that teams hold a variety of fundraising events leading up to the Relay, while individuals embark on their own campaigns.

There are incentive prizes for those who raise the most money, while team successes are acknowledged via special banners on the day of the event.

“Relay is an amazing community bonding experience,” comments Judy. “There’s just nothing else like it out there, and everyone who participates finds it incredibly worthwhile and memorable.”

Dave Witt, executive director of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce, is going to participate in the first Relay For Life of Juanita-Woodinville. Having never taken part in a relay, he is looking forward to the experience. “I’ve heard about it for years,” he says, “and finally I have a chance to be a part of it.” He adds, “Like almost everyone, I’ve had loved ones touched by cancer and I’m motivated to help raise money for the research required to find a cure.

“A few years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the Komen 3 Day walk for breast cancer research and it was a wonderful experience. Relay For Life is a team event, which I think will add a valuable component.”

Witt is organizing a chamber team and he hopes a lot of Woodinville Chamber members and their families will join him this year.

For more information about Relay For Life, visit www.relayforlife.org

To register for Relay For Life Northshore: www.relayforlife.org/northshorewa

To register for Relay For Life Juanita-Woodinville: www.relayforlife.org/juanitawoodinvillewa

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