Cancer survivors and supporters walk the track at the 2016 Federal Way Relay for Life event. This year’s fundraiser for the American Cancer Society will take place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at Saghalie Middle School. Courtesy Bruce Honda

Cancer survivors unite for annual Relay for Life in Federal Way

While the goal will be the same — to raise money for cancer research and support through the American Cancer Society — the 15th annual Federal Way Relay for Life will feature a slightly different format than in past years.

Rather than starting in the evening and ending the following morning, Federal Way’s Relay for Life will be a day-long event, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Saghalie Middle School track, 33914 19th Ave. SW.

Federal Way’s Relay for Life community organizer Katrina Minton-Davis said, while an overnight event is the standard, that requirement was relaxed, and because participation has dropped in the wee hours at Federal Way’s event, the schedule was changed.

“This was really what the community wants, and we decided that this would fit us better,” she said.

Otherwise, the event is the same, Minton-Davis said. It starts with opening ceremonies, in which Mayor Jim Ferrell will speak, as will Councilwoman Dini Duclos, a cancer survivor, and Councilman Martin Moore, and it will be followed by the survivor lap. A health and wellness fair with about 15 vendors will take place from noon to 2 p.m., and there will be themed laps throughout the day. A survivor lunch, featuring entertainment by local high school Polynesian dancers, will also be offered. The event winds down with a luminaria at 10 p.m., in which participants light a candle placed in a bag in honor of loved ones who succumbed to cancer, while a slide show with pictures of those people is displayed.

Minton-Davis said last year’s event raised about $84,000 for the American Cancer Society, which is also this year’s goal. According to the event’s website, only $28,233 has been raised thus far. While 500 participants are expected, people can sign up for the event up until its start or just come to watch.

Deborah Davidek, a longtime Relay for Life supporter, hasn’t missed a Federal Way event for 10 years, when a number of family members were diagnosed with cancer, including her husband. A team captain of her PartyLite team, she said they usually have 30 to 40 people on the track throughout the day, and this year they will be selling baked goods to raise money as well.

Because she has lost so many to cancer, she said she is passionate about raising money for the event. To do that, she has organized a Bowling for Boobs fundraiser each summer. Last year, the event raised $7,800, and, after expenses, $5,494 went to Relay for Life.

Not only is Davidek passionate about Relay for Life, she said the event allows her to bond and heal with her family and friends.

“Our family members walk through chemotherapy and radiation. They don’t get a choice to have cancer,” she said. “This is the least we can do to walk in honor of and in memory of family members who have been affected.”

In describing her participation with Relay for Life, Lucy Fuiava said she does it to support the patients who visit the oncology clinic for which she works, Northwest Medical Specialties. The second-year captain said she and her coworkers care so much for the patients at the clinic that they go out of their way to help them, including by honoring them at Relay for Life.

Fuiava said it is emotional to see them out in the field walking, outside of the clinic setting, and she knows they appreciate clinic staff being there for them.

“To see them out there at this event, it’s a different feeling, you know,” she said. “It shows we don’t just care for them at work. I feel we can all sacrifice one day or two days for these patients.”

To learn more about the Federal Way Relay for Life event, or to donate, visit www.RelayForLife.org/FederalWayWa.

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