Friday Afternoon Club: SK Relay for Life Starts Friday

It’s not Friday yet, but you can get started early planning your weekend.

Is there anyone out there whose life has not been touched in some way by cancer? My guess is you’re in the minority.

This year in the United States nearly 1.5 million people will be be diagnosed with the disease.

My father died of lung cancer. My mother-in-law died of breast cancer. My sister is a breast cancer survivor.

The five-year survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 1996 and 2002 is 66 percent, up from a 51 percent survival rate from 1975-77, according to the American Cancer Society. Progress in diagnosis that allows earlier detection and improved treatments are contributing factors.

Money raised at American Cancer Society Relay for Life events helps fund cancer research, and this year South Kitsap Relay for Life organizers are hoping to raise $225,000 for the cause. The Relay starts at 6 p.m. Friday with a survivors’ walk. Participants, who have collected pledges, will walk throughout the night and most of Saturday.

The public is welcome to stop by and offer support by walking along for a spell, buying food from the vendors or taking part in on site fundraisers.

I’ll be out of town this weekend, but I can say from past experience that the Relay is a hoot. Good luck and thanks to all who will take part.

Here’s the official story. There’s a list of other Relay events in Kitsap, North Mason and Gig Harbor at the bottom.

By Chris Henry
South Kitsap
As Gary Lidstrom looks around his office at John L. Scott Real Estate of Port Orchard, he’s hard pressed to find any of his co-workers who haven’t been affected in some way by cancer. Some are cancer survivors themselves. Some, like Lidstrom, have family members who have had the disease, which will affect nearly 1.5 million Americans this year.
Today and Saturday, Lidstrom and others from John L. Scott will take part in the annual South Kitsap Relay for Life, which begins at 6 p.m. this evening at the South Kitsap High School track.
American Cancer Society Relay for Life events take place across the country each year to celebrate survivors, honor cancer victims, and raise money for research and support programs. Other Relays are planned locally in the Bremerton/Central Kitsap area, North Kitsap, Bainbridge Island, Gig Harbor and North Mason.
The John L. Scott team will be among more than 60 teams walking the track over the nearly 24 hours of the event. At least one person from each team will be walking at any given time, even through the wee hours of the morning.
Last year, South Kitsap Relay for Life raised $205,000 for the ACS. The goal this year is $225,000, said Port of Bremerton Commissioner Mary Ann Huntington, who is helping to organize this year’s event.
The idea for Relay for Life began in 1985, when Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma surgeon, walked 83 miles around the track at the University of Puget Sound to raise money for the local American Cancer Society branch. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. The first official Relay event took place in 1986 in Tacoma.
South Kitsap Relay for Life, like all relays, traditionally begins with a survivors’ walk around the track. This year, more than 200 people, including children, will be taking that first lap , said Huntington.
“It’s very, very emotional,” she said. “You won’t find a dry eye in the place when these survivors start off around the track.”
Lidstrom, a co-captain of his team who has taken part in Relay for Life events in past years, said the most moving part of Relay for him is the luminary ceremony. At 10 p.m. the lights go out and candles are lit in hundreds of white paper bags set around the track. Each bag bears the name of a cancer survivor or victim.
“I’ve submitted several people,” said Lidstrom, whose father has cancer and whose aunt died of the disease. “The thing is everyone knows people who have passed because of cancer. It’s a huge deal to work towards the research on this. It seems like it’s getting better all the time, and it’s exciting to be able to do something about it.”
Join a conversation about the Realy for Life at “Speaking of South Kitsap” a blog at

Relay for Life Events
South Kitsap: 6 p.m. June 1, South Kitsap High School.
Gig Harbor: June 15, 3701 38th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor
North Mason: June 15, North Mason High School.
Bremerton/Central Kitsap: June 23, Central Kitsap High School, Silverdale.
North Kitsap: July 14, Kingston High School.
Bainbridge Island: July 28, Bainbridge High School.

One thought on “Friday Afternoon Club: SK Relay for Life Starts Friday

  1. I will be attending the Relay for Life at SKHS to support my Mom who is a 37 year breast cancer survivor and will be 83 the day of the relay…and to support my sister a 12 year breast cancer survivor! I can’t forget my friend Lori who is just months out of chemo from breast cancer. I love you all! To the rest of my beloved “sisters” out there…please take the time to perform your breast exams and have a yearly mammogram! Support the American Cancer Society with your donations this weekend. We must continue the fight to find a cure.

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