Relay to walk in cancer research assistance

KINGSTON — This Saturday Hall’s Angels, Can Do’s, Stairway to Steven and many other teams will lace up their sneakers, find that extra bottle of sunscreen and pitch their tents in preparation for a full 24 hours of walking the Kingston Junior High track as the North Kitsap Relay for Life again takes aim at raising cancer funding and awareness.

The event was moved from its traditional venue at the North Kitsap High School stadium when Relay organizers learned the North Kitsap School District had plans to install artificial turf this summer. The project has since been postponed until next year, but the event will remain at KJH this summer, and might stay in Kingston even longer.

“I’m toying with the idea of moving to Kingston High School,” Relay for Life chairman Mel Bird said as far as a different location for the event next year. “A new venue would be interesting, so we’ll see.”

In the meantime, Bird, along with volunteers, has been working since winter to ensure the KJH field and track would be a suitable replacement for the stadium. The most drastic change will be several heavy-duty generators needed to power the lights during the night and the lack of stadium seating to provide shade during the sunny hours.

There may not be as many cool places during the day, but public relations and entertainment chairwoman Shelly Gueldenhaar said there will still be plenty of fun for participants and anyone who stops by to visit. Suquamish singer Peg Deam will help kick off the Relay and the Clam Island Band, a teenage hip hop group and the Dublin Sisters will be out at the event on Saturday to pump up and entertain walkers.

Mark at Midnight will also make an appearance from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. to play easy listening music and keep participants awake.

“The main thing is to keep people walking,” Gueldenhaar said. She said some teams bring their own CDs to the event so they can listen to certain songs to keep them going.

The Relay will also feature themed laps, like the line dance and cowboy hat lap, the walk backwards lap and the favorite blanket lap, as well as a non-denominational church service Sunday morning and a Poulsbo Noon Lions pancake breakfast. A luminaria ceremony will be held at 10 p.m. Saturday evening to honor residents who have lost their battle with cancer.

“Probably the luminaria ceremony,” Bird said of his favorite part of the Relay. “That I’m a two time survivor myself, I’m always touched by the luminarias. It’s good to remember those people who are no longer with us. I dodged a couple bullets myself.”

The Relay raised $125,000 last year for cancer research, and organizers are hoping to match that this year.

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