Hundreds will Relay for cancer cure at South Kitsap High School Friday and Saturday

Walkers will gather on Friday night to raise money for cancer research and remember loved ones who lost their battle. - File photo
Walkers will gather on Friday night to raise money for cancer research and remember loved ones who lost their battle.
— image credit: File photo

Port Orchard cancer survivors and those who support them will be trading shoe leather for a cure tonight as the Relay for Life returns to the South Kitsap High School track.

As of Tuesday afternoon, local event organizers reported 73 teams and around 1,000 individuals would be participating.

“Last year, we had around 60 teams and 1,100 individuals,” said Sheila Cline, team development chair for the event. “This year, with so many more teams already committed, and knowing we always get a lot of people who decide to do this at the last minute, we’re expecting a much better turnout — assuming the weather cooperates.”

For the record, the National Weather Service is predicting near-perfect conditions, with partly cloudy skies on Friday night and sunshine with 70-degree temperatures on Saturday.

The all-night event is scheduled to kick off with opening ceremonies highlighted by remarks from Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, State Rep. Jan Angel and State Sen. Derek Kilmer at 6 p.m.

The Survivor Lap will follow at around 6:15, and the Luminaria Lighting is scheduled for 10 p.m.

The final lap will be walked at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Cline said donations are currently ahead of last year’s pace, as well.

“We took in $30,000 just last night, to put us close to $100,000 already,” she said.

The 2009 Relay raised nearly $170,000.

“Technically, the fundraising period runs through Aug. 31,” Cline said, “and we have several more major fundraising events planned later in the summer. We’re very optimistic we’ll exceed last year’s total — hopefully by a lot.”

Among the group’s more innovative revenue-generating schemes this year is the “Get the Flock Out” promotion involving a collection of artificial purple flamingoes.

“For $20, you can have a flock placed in someone else’s yard,” Cline said. “The flock can be removed for $25. If you would like the flock to be removed and sent to another location, we can do that for $45. We can also sell you flock insurance for $30 to make sure the flock will never show up in your yard.”

Using three sets of the ostentatious birds, the Relay for Life has raised more than $4,000 this year.

“We even had a waiting list for those wanting to send the birds to someone else,” Cline said. “Next year, we’ll try to have even more, but as you can imagine, it does require a lot of work moving them around all the time.”

The Relay for Life began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Since then, event has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest movement to end the disease.

Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 19 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer.

“It’s taken on a life of its own,” Cline said. “But it’s definitely a labor or love for all of us.”

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