Relay for Life re-sparks awareness

By Navarre Kerr

Hawks for Hope and numerous other supporters from South Snohomish County met on the Lynnwood High School track for the 2009 Relay for Life® on May 16 and 17.
The yearly event is supported by the American Cancer Society to help people get involved and contribute in the fight against cancer. Over 3.5 million people are involved nationwide and in 20 countries around the world each year. Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, conceived the idea during a run in a 24 relay he put on in May of 1985. In May 1986, 19 teams took part in the first Relay For Life at the Stadium Bowl in Puget Sound, raising a total of $33,000 in 24 hours. 23 years later, in Lynnwood and around the world, Klatt’s dream is still going strong.
At the current Relay for Life, supporting teams got together to “Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back” against cancer. At noon, 16 cancer survivors spoke about their struggle and triumph over cancer to kick off the event. Cheer squads from Lynnwood, Kamiak, and Mountlake Terrace high schools spelled out letters in the word hope using pom-poms after each speaker. Following the speeches survivors were asked to gather behind the “we are winning” banner on the track. Survivors then stood on the track until the most recent local cancer survivor cut the purple ribbon and commenced the march. After one lap the names of the supporting teams were announced and the teams proceeded around the track as well.
Stationed around the track were booths informing about different types of cancer, methods of prevention, and ways to get regular checkups to find it early and have a higher chance of defeating it. They were also booths from various local sponsors such as Starbucks and Fred Meyer which provided free food for survivors. A live band also contributed their time to play at the event.
Once night started to fall the festive entertainment turned into a more somber atmosphere. At 10 p.m. participants gathered around the stage for the luminary ceremony. There was a slideshow honoring those who have died and those who are currently battling cancer. The slide show was followed by a live song and a poem. Lastly there was a symbolic place setting depicting various aspects in a person’s life that is affected by cancer.
Following the ceremony was the luminaria walk. Bags had names written on them for those who have fought and those who have died from cancer with candles inside lighting up the track as well as a sign made out of luminary bags that spelled hope. People walked around the track in a lap of silence with melancholy spirit and honored those who were no longer alive due to cancer.
Ivan Wood, a former Terrace student who lost his life to cancer, had three bags lit in honor of him. After the walk people dispersed with a somber but hopeful spirit to either sleep or just talk with others. To wake up participants there was a complimentary pancake and sausage breakfast. At noon on the 17 there was a closing ceremony honoring each group’s contributions. Hawks for Hope contributed extensively for this being only their third year at the event.
The event also featured Terrace performing talent including Cameron Hollingshead, Gabe Much, and Justin Correa. During their one-day blitz Hawks for Hope collected just over $1250 from Terrace students. Lastly they have received a total of $2513 from online donations.