Op-Ed: Local Relay for Life event in danger of cancellation

Once a year teams of family and friends from Woodinville, Bothell and Kenmore descend upon a local middle school track with a common purpose: to fight cancer together.

The teams of 10-15 people set up a campsite and take turns walking a track for 20 hours with dreams that their efforts will raise the funds necessary to find a cure to cancer and also support those battling cancer.

For 20 years the Relay For Life of Northshore, an American Cancer Society event, has been a beacon of hope for local families who have been affected by cancer. This event is in danger of being cancelled after this year’s event on May 30 and 31.

Not long ago, the Relay For Life of Northshore was a model for which other Relay events around the country looked to for ideas, and inspiration. The 2013 Relay For Life set local, state and national records for youth participation and fundraising with over 1,000 participants and $185,000 raised for the American Cancer Society.

Since then, the numbers have continued to dwindle as many of the youth involved have gone off to college, or careers. Families and businesses moved on to support other charitable avenues.

Relay For Life of Northshore reached a low last year raising $30,000. The American Cancer Society cancels events that raise less than $50,000 because the resources and manpower can be better used elsewhere.

But two long-time local Relayers have convinced the ACS to give our community another opportunity to prove that the people of Woodinville, Bothell and Kenmore can make a difference in the fight against cancer!

On May 30 and 31, we are asking for anyone affected by cancer, or anyone who wants to be part of finding a cure to join us at Relay For Life of Northshore. The event starts at noon with the Survivor Lap.

Anyone who has been told, “You have cancer,” and is still alive is a survivor. All survivors are invited to come walk the opening lap, get cheered on by hundreds of people, be awarded a Survivor Medal, and be treated to lunch.

Throughout the day, people walk the track, play team tug-o-war, participate in kick-ball tournaments and water balloon tosses. As the sun sets, and darkness surrounds, the Luminaria Ceremony lights up the night to give us Hope.

This candle-lit ceremony is a time to honor those lost to cancer, and those battling cancer. Stories from survivors, and caregivers alike are shared, and a Lap of Silence brings our community together.

Walking the track at 3 a.m., in the cold and feeling tired is hard, but we know it’s better than battling cancer. In the morning, as the sun rises, we celebrate that we made it through the dark times and move forward together with hope.

Please join us for Relay For Life of Northshore and help save lives. For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/northshorewa

Ryan Adams is a math teacher at Leota Junior High

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