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Locals walk for cancer at Relay for Life

Sean Spencer jogged first around the track, then walked — all the while thinking about two people who might have been most affected by his participation in this year’s Relay for Life.

“My grandmother died of cancer, and one of my wife’s relatives did, too,” said Spencer, who joined 20 of his co-workers from West Sound Bank and Mortgage and their families for the South Kitsap event.

Spencer was one of the hundreds of participants on more than 55 teams who turned out on Friday and Saturday at South Kitsap High School for the Relay for Life marathon, which raises funds for the American Cancer Society.

Teams sign up and agree to keep at least one team member on the track at any given time for nearly 24 hours.

The walk started at 6 p.m. Friday and by 10 a.m. Saturday, Spencer had spent at least two 2-hour sessions on the track — and had filled in for a few tired colleagues along the way.

His co-worker, Tammy Allaire, had already walked four separate times, and was happy for a break.

“Once you’re set up, it’s great. Time goes by pretty quick,” Allaire said. Each team set up its own tents, complete with sleeping cots, barbecue food and plenty of water and coffee. Tents dotted the infield beneath overcast skies, whiles walkers moved back and forth, bands played and teammates cheered each other on.

The cancer walk is not a pledge event, but teams raised money through donations. In some instances, donations were made in honor of someone who had died of cancer.

“You see them walking and hanging in there” despite how tired everyone is, Allaire said. “It’s really the perfect place to be for helping people out.”

Like many of the teams, it was the first year for participants from West Sound Mortgage — but Allaire and Spencer say they plan to do it again next year.

All totaled, more than 4,000 events are held nationwide in June and July. Four more will be held in Kitsap County.

Spencer said he was most impressed by the final lap — or the last time around at 2 p.m. Saturday, when everyone who remained at the track joined in a “victory lap” of sorts to end the Relay for Life.

“Here you meet people who are going through the process of treatment and it’s nice to know you’re walking for a great cause,” he said.

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