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Relay for Life: Thank you for fighting cancer
By ROBIN LULICH, Federal Way resident
As a 16-year cancer survivor and Survivor/Pictorial Chair for Federal Way’s Relay for Life, I would like to thank everyone that participated in this year’s event on July 25-26 at Saghalie Park.
We as a community are affecting the lives of so many.
Until your life has been touched by cancer, you may not fully understand why so many local residents choose to stay up all night, laugh, sing, cry, eat, walk around a track and embrace the experience known as Relay for Life.
The American Cancer Society funds cancer researchers, education, advocacy and patient treatment programs. The money raised in our community comes back to us through those channels and is ours to make use of.
Each year there are more people diagnosed with cancer and more people are able to receive treatment and to be declared cancer-free. A person becomes a survivor the moment they are diagnosed with cancer.
At the Relay for Life, the community is able to come together and take up the fight against cancer. Relay for Life is much more than a walk around the track. Relay is a time to celebrate life and to remember those who lost their battle against cancer. Relay also gets us inspired to fight this disease, as well as bringing those together who share the same experience and find common ground, hope and healing.
Relay for Life committee members and teams come together to coordinate fund-raising for the American Cancer Society and to raise awareness of the need for such funding throughout the entire year. The Relay for Life event is the culmination of a year of planning and working together as a community to promote team participation. The event celebrates the lives of survivors and the lives of those that did not win the battle, but have left others to carry on to find the cure.
This year we had 43 teams of approximately 8-15 members per team — and raised $60,144.49. Teams gather with tents and sleeping bags, with the goal of keeping one person on the track at all times. Relay for Life brings together friends, families, hospitals, businesses, schools, churches as well as people from all walks of life. Teams have until the end of August to turn in donations that they are still receiving.
The American Cancer Society reports one in three people are affected by cancer, either by suffering from it, being a survivor, or having lost someone to it.
Relay for Life opened with a very moving and emotional lap. Survivors were escorted by Federal Way police motorcycles and K-9 units while they walked the first lap, which is called the “Victory Lap.” They are the reason we continue the fight because each year, more and more people are living wonderful and productive lives following a diagnosis of cancer. During the course of Relay, there is a festive atmosphere, teams do onsite fundraising, and there are games, music and food.
The posting of the colors were by the Milton VFW Post 11401, and the national anthem was sung by Lisa Hanson. Mayor Jack Dovey, King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer and judicial candidate James Santucci were guest speakers offering inspirational thoughts and motivation.
This year the following groups or individuals participated in keeping the event going: SoulDeep, Arthur Murray Dance Studio, Hey Gracie, Harmony Kings, kung fu demonstration by Academy of Kempo Martial Arts, 41 Miles band, Soul’d, TJHS band and Chris Lehfeldt (disc jockey).
Cascade Regional Blood Services, Federal Way’s community blood center and sole provider of blood products to St. Francis Hospital, held a blood drive. For those who do not know, blood products are used for cancer treatments. When you donate, you can save up to three lives. Thank you to all those who donated and supported not only our community hospital, but our own community blood center.
More than 300 luminary bags lined the track. On the hillside, luminary bags spelled out the words "hope" and "cure." The luminary ceremony not only involved the lighting of the luminaries, which stayed lighted all night, but a pictorial tribute to those who lost their battle to cancer or in honor of those who are survivors. While the luminary bags were being lighted, Reed Lancaster played the bagpipes.
I sincerely would like to thank the following business who supported or participated in Relay this year. Platinum sponsors: Twin Lakes Golf and Country Club, Wild Waves Theme Park. Gold sponsors: City of Federal Way, Robinson Newspapers, Smith and Greene. Silver sponsors: Wal-Mart, Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, Red Canoe Credit Union, Arthur Murray, King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer. Bronze sponsors: Boost Energy Drink and Prudential Northwest Realty.
A big thank you to Metropolitan Market for providing the food and beverages for the survivor reception, Julia’s Flowers, Carol at Great Harvest Bread, Kiwanis for cooking dinner, the Lions for breakfast, and South King Fire and Rescue for providing an aide car and first-aid station during the entire event.
Thank you to the following dignitaries for your continued support: City council members Linda Kochmar, Jeanne Burbidge and Mayor Jack Dovey, State Rep. Skip Priest, and Pete von Reichbauer.
Thanks to everyone that worked with us locally who volunteered their time, talents and efforts. The families of those involved and often the employers who played vital parts to our success, I would like to thank you all for all that you have done. Thank you team captains and teams! Relay would not happen without you! If I have left anyone out or unmentioned in my thank-yous above, I apologize and wish to say thank you as well.
Relay for Life is about a community that takes up the fight against cancer. And we did it Federal Way! It is my hope that you will all become more aware of this powerful event and plan on finding a way to join in next year, as cancer never sleeps.