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Local Relay for Life donations increase this year

Much of the crowd responsible for raising more than $140,000 for South Kitsap’s 2012 Relay for Life.  - Submitted
Much of the crowd responsible for raising more than $140,000 for South Kitsap’s 2012 Relay for Life.
— image credit: Submitted

Relay for Life of South Kitsap already has exceeded its donations from last year.

Chairman Ethan Kalkwarf said Tuesday that the two-day event last week raised $142,000 and he expects that to increase when final donations are tallied next week.

He said all proceeds from the event are donated to the American Cancer Society. Kalkwarf said the main expenses, which total less than 10 percent of the proceeds, are to rent the track at South Kitsap High School and for live entertainment.

Kalkwarf, a senior at South, said the event raised $126,000 last year.

“I don’t know that I have a secret formula,” he said. “The whole committee has been so committed.”

Kalfwarf, who became chairman for the event last summer, said the committee actively sought out new members and businesses to participate in Relay for Life. Proceeds from the event are donated to the American Cancer Society.

He said donations locally and nationally have decreased in recent years. That might be a byproduct of the economy’s tepid recovery, but Kalkwarf does not agree with that sentiment.

“I don’t like to use the economy as an excuse,” he said.

Instead, he likes to promote the impact Relay for Life has made on people.

“When they give money to the American Cancer Society, it is used for great things,” Kalkwarf said.

Relay for Life, which has grown into a global event, has local roots. According to its website, it began in May 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound to show support for his patients who battled cancer. Through the support of his friends, family and patients, he raised $27,000 that year to fight cancer.

Kalkwarf said he first became familiar with the event in 2007.

“A friend invited me to Relay for Life in seventh grade,” he said. “I fell in love with it then.”

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