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Cancer survivors are rock stars: Federal Way Relay for Life raises $55,000 | PHOTOS
When Dawn Jump was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, she chose to fight.
Failure was not an option for the Federal Way real estate agent and mother of two. Since her diagnosis on Cinco de Mayo in 2011, she endured multiple surgeries as well as treatments that left her without hair and fingernails.
"Cancer survivors are rock stars," she said at this year's Relay for Life in Federal Way. "Cancer changes you forever. Survivors see the world differently than before."
Jump kicked off the "survivors lap" at the annual event by sharing her struggle to ultimately conquer cancer.
"I learned from cancer how important the people are around you," said Jump, leading a round of applause for the caretakers of cancer victims. "Take time to share your story and listen to others' stories."
Federal Way's Relay for Life was held June 1-2, raising about $55,000 so far for the American Cancer Society. (SEE PHOTOS)
This year's event attracted 381 participants and a total of 39 fundraising teams, and 16 people raised $1,000 or more. Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, teams walked the track overnight until noon Saturday to symbolize that cancer doesn't sleep.
One participant in this year's survivors lap was Joe Penwell, a skin cancer survivor since 2003. The Federal Way resident later transformed into Princess Relay, complete with a crown, white curly wig, turquoise dress, star-topped wand and beauty pageant sash. His friends from Knights of Columbus made sure he dressed as Princess Relay as part of a bet — after Penwell raised more than $1,000 for the American Cancer Society.
The two-day event also featured a community wellness fair with multiple vendors lining the track at Saghalie Middle School, 33914 19th Ave. SW.
"We had so many more participants this year who showed up and camped out," said co-organizer Tarah Taggart, who helped lead a Relay Fight Back Rally on Saturday morning. "The rally was basically just to say that cancer didn't stop, and neither did we. It was 9:30 in the morning and we were still walking."
Donations for this year's Relay are still tricking in, with the deadline at the end of August. The 2011 event raised about $54,000.