Relay passes the baton to new teams

POULSBO — While looking forward to the fifth annual North Kitsap Relay for Life coming up in July, organizers of the American Cancer Society fund-raiser also used their kick-off Saturday to reflect on the past.

“We talked about how far we’ve come,” Co-Chair Jo Ann Williams commented. “When this Relay first started, it raised $17,000 the first year. This year, our goal is $100,000.”

The North Kitsap Relay for Life held a sports-themed kick-off Feb. 7 as a way to start the countdown to the July 16-17 event. But besides the fun and games, the afternoon was also a way to introduce new people to Relay.

The Relay for Life began 19 years ago in Tacoma by a physician who ran for 24 hours to raise money and awareness for ACS. Today, more than 3,800 communities across the nation gather for this inspiring fund-raiser that brings together teams of eight to 15 people for a 24-hour relay-style race. Teams raise money for the ACS, while also raising awareness of cancer and hope for cancer patients and survivors.

Though the North Kitsap Relay for Life takes place in Poulsbo, it also draws teams from areas like Bainbridge Island, Suquamish, Scandia, Keyport and Kingston.

Saturday’s kick-off garnered the local fund-raiser six new teams and Williams said the sponsorships continue to roll in. So far, the event is already nearing $10,000 in the bank toward its 2004 goal.

“We had a lot of our sponsors show up and everybody was really enthusiastic,” Williams said of the kick-off. “It was a very exciting event.”

But there’s still a ways to go. Williams said event organizers are now in the process of searching for teams, sponsors and survivors to take part in this year’s Relay. There are even sponsorships still available for teams that wish to sign up but can’t afford the registration fee.

“It’s not too late to sign up for teams,” Williams commented. “And it’s a very energetic, community-based event.”

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