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Kicking it up for cancer support
by MATTHEW NASH
Six years running, volunteers with Sequim’s Relay For Life continue their strong march, raising funds to cure cancer and support those in recovery and treatment.
The all-night event runs 3 p.m.-noon, Friday-Saturday, Aug. 12-13, at the Sequim High School track, 601 N. Sequim Ave.
Suzie Van Ausdle, chairman of the Sequim relay for thee years, said 18 teams have signed up, which is the most ever.
“It’s very encouraging,” Van Ausdle said, “We’ve been building this relay up for three years now and it’s finally to the point we want it.”
Gail Sumpter, team captain for the Sequim Association of Realtors, said people are seeing Sequim’s relay as a distinct event from Port Angeles’ relay.
Volunteers have worked year-round to build up interest, including having a booth at the Sequim Lavender Festival Street Fair, entering a float in the Sequim Irrigation Festival Grand Parade and creating a Facebook account to connect supporters.
Relay teams have up to 15 people with at least one person running or walking at a time throughout the event. Individuals and teams gain outright sponsors or donations for how many laps an individual and/or a team performs. Money helps the American Cancer Society with research, education, patient advocacy and patient services.
The 154 participants registered so far have received pledges and sponsorships for just over $12,000.
Sumpter said she’s lived in Sequim three years and has seen the impact of cancer on many people.
“Everybody is affected by somebody with cancer, unfortunately,” she said.
Van Ausdle said money raised from the relay goes to cancer research and important local programs, like a Patient Navigator Program, patient lodging during out-of-area treatment, transportation to appointments, access to cancer support groups and services online and over the phone.
“Sequim is getting more back in services than we raise,” Van Ausdle said.
She said these programs are just as essential to fund as research because if a patient can’t get to use the research, then it’s not worth it. She encourages donations.
“What if my $5 is the final straw that helps someone or their best friend get to treatment,” Van Ausdle said.
Opening ceremonies kick off at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 12, with a special cancer survivors’ lap. Several special laps and events are planned for the event, including survivors’ and caregivers’ laps and fun laps such as walking backward and hula hooping.
Anyone can sign up until the beginning of the event on Friday. Sumpter said teams always are welcome.
Tracy Radford, community relationships manager for American Cancer Society, said individuals, duos and small teams can sign up for the Sequim Community Team, which is available to anyone.
Teams, individuals and donors can visit www.relayforlife.org/sequimwa for more information.
Sumpter said signing up is easy and found her initial fundraising simple. She raised about $1,000 her first year from sending one e-mail out to friends. Sumpter said organizers have gotten away from asking for money for each lap because it’s hard to track. They emphasize sponsorships and donations instead.
The realtors’ team has asked for pledges for walking miles, baking pies and weed-eating around signs.
Many are dedicating their efforts to Kurt Schneider, a real estate agent who died recently after battling cancer for a year.
Some of the many events at Relay For Life of Sequim include:
■ 7 p.m. Friday, Great Clips cutting hair for Locks of Love to donate to cancer patients. Hair must be at least 10 inches long.
■ Live music from the Old Time Fiddlers, hula dancers, cloggers and many more
■ Project Relay fashion contest using Sequim Gazette newspapers at 10 a.m. Saturday
■ KSQM Radio’s Five-O show airs from the event Friday evening
■ Free activities, games and crafts for children.
For more information on the race, visit www.relayforlife.org/sequimwa; or call Tracy Radford with the American Cancer Society at 425-322-1120.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.