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Passing along the baton of hope

POULSBO — Anyone who imagines a fund raiser to be an rigorous, ultra-formal event should have seen Nick Pealstrom Saturday morning.

The sun was out, and Pealstrom was sprawled in a lawn chair on the NKHS stadium infield. A Hawaiian shirt was draped over his shoulders.

“Usually, I’d be sitting at home on my computer,” said Pealstrom, who is a North Kitsap High School student and was a member of the North Kitsap LEO club’s Relay For Life team. “But I’ve got people around me, and mountains right over there.”

Pealstrom was one of many North Kitsap residents to take part in the third-annual event, which draws the community together to donate time and money to support cancer research.

Teams gathered at the track Friday afternoon and soon after members began walking around its perimeter. Individuals walked in hour-long shifts. Once one team member was done, another began — from 6 p.m. Friday until the event’s end, 6 p.m. Saturday.

The event started with the annual survivor’s walk, where cancer survivors of all ages took the first revolution around the track to kick off the event.

There was more to follow, from music by both the current and former Miss Poulsbos, to special events.

Local Vikings made a special appearance, swords and all, to cut the hair of current Miss Poulsbo Kristen Eddings. Eddings had her beautiful golden locks sheared and donated a 12-inch ponytail to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients who have lost their hair to chemotherapy.

While Eddings revealed no nervousness before the event — sitting calmly while her hair was measured by ruler — her eyes widened noticeably as the scissors began snipping.

Whether the Relay For Life participants were donated their hair or their time, it was for a good cause. The money raised goes to the American Cancer Society for research and treatment, and that money stays in the Northwest.

“Everyone’s affected by cancer,” said Jackie Foss, an administrative assistant for Kitsap Physical Therapy. When she was not walking, Foss helped the team with a raffle to raise more funds for the Relay For Life. Prizes included a set of golf clubs.

Foss said that several staff members at the Poulsbo business were touched by cancer, so it wasn’t difficult for people to donate a few dollars or a few hours.

“We didn’t have a hard filling the spots,” she explained.

Foss said that the participation was nice, but it can always be better.

“We want to see more participation,” she said. “We want to see it packed.”

Linda Ouhl, the community development manager of the ACS, was also at the event and very pleased by the results.

“It’s a great community, with nice people,” she said as she strolled around the track. “Some people are doing great fund raisers.”

Ouhl said the ACS’s goals are set high: “We want to win the battle against cancer.”

So does North Kitsap.

The community’s goal was $65,000. As of press time the tally was at $58,000 and counting.

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