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Relay brings light to cancer fight

KINGSTON — Colorful tents and smiling faces ringed the Kingston Junior High track Saturday and Sunday, as walkers settled in for the 24 hour North Kitsap Relay for Life. Participants from the 43 teams helped the cancer research fund raiser nearly meet its goal with $113,000 reported Monday morning and more checks arriving daily.

Walkers were ready to trample the disease Saturday afternoon as they talked and lapped the track, enjoying live music and each other’s company. The KJH venue was new this year. The Relay is usually held at the North Kitsap High School stadium, but Relay for Life chairman Mel Bird said KJH didn’t disappoint.

“We really liked it, the restroom facilities were nice,” he said. “The use of the commons was good, we used it for the survivors banquet. We were able to store ice and water there. Folks from the junior high school were just wonderful.”

He said at any given point during the Relay 100 to 125 walkers were on the track, and about 400 to 500 people attended the luminaria ceremony honoring survivors and those who have lost their battles with cancer. Bird said one of the teams, Boxlight, provided a projector which allowed organizers to air videos of those claimed by cancer.

“It’s going very well,” said Comfort Keepers team member Lisa Jacobson. “We’re just getting set up and started. We’re making the best of the situation.”

The Comfort Keepers walkers came in shifts during the day, about 25 in all ended up lapping the track. The Poulsbo-based company, which provides in-home and nursing services, has clients who suffer from different forms of cancer, said Comfort Keepers owner Pam Woolford, and the Relay is a way to support them.

“My mother died of cancer and my father is a survivor,” said The Point Casino team member Kim Culloo. “We’re very happy to be here. It’s a great, great cause.”

The event was bittersweet for many, and heartening to all as survivors, like Bird, walked with participants who have had family members and friends struggle through cancer.

Different themed laps helped keep the Relay light, and upbeat music provided by the Clam Island Band and a teen hip-hop group and skits from the Dublin Sisters kept everyone laughing and walking.

“I think lots of us know someone who passed away,” said West Sound Community Church team member Trang McGillivray. “Our women’s and children’s director is a survivor... I think the funny (lap) is the bald-headed painted lap. My husband is bald, and it was one of the laps we came up with.”

The Relay concluded at noon Sunday after 24 hours of walking, fun and memories. The Puget Sound Blood Center had one of their traveling donation banks at the event and gained 42 units of blood and 15 new donors, Bird said.

“It’s just very heartfelt,” Jacobson said. “It’s very touching.”

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