Relay for Life ‘04 sets recordRelay for Life ‘04 sets record

POULSBO — The American Cancer Society’s North Kitsap Relay for Life event has grown each year of its existence, surpassing fund-raising goals on an annual basis.

But this year, the event not only surpassed its financial goal — it achieved an entirely new fund-raising echelon.

The 2004 event had netted $118,000 by 6 p.m. Saturday night, clearing last year’s total by $33,000. The final amount is expected to be even larger, as the fund-raising will continue for another two weeks, further shattering the original goal of $100,000.

The Relay at North Kitsap High School’s stadium again spanned 24 hours, from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday — with never a moment in which the track emptied of walkers and runners supporting the cause. The high School track, lined on both sides with tents, saw those people come and go as team participants handed-off walking duties to those filling the next time slot.

One such walker was Donna Klein, who was out and about at 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Klein said she is passionate about helping uncover a cure for the deadly disease because of how susceptible everyone is to it and its impacts.

“You can be 2 months old or 80 years old and cancer can touch your life,” she said. “This event raises money and awareness. And we’re fighting for a cure.”

Thirty-six teams participated in the Relay this year, a huge increase from last year’s 22 squads. New fund-raisers also bolstered the net revenue of the event but Relay veterans held their own. Again netting the highest amount, was the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Team, with $35,000 — an increase of $22,000 from the year before. The highest grossing first-year squad was the Andy Page team, which pulled in more than $7,000. But along with financial donations comes the time — and determination therein — of staying up all night for the cause.

One of the new teams, Harold’s Heroes, sponsored by Olympic Property Group, rotated its walking schedule on an hourly basis and was seen playing “Chicago-style Rummy” into the wee hours of the morning.

“I came by here a year ago and it seemed like a really great community thing to do,” said Harold’s Heroes organizer Gretchen Thompson. “It’s a great opportunity to do something together and to raise money for research.”

The team’s name came from Thompson’s grandfather, Harold Mung, who died of cancer five years ago.

Thompson’s mother Beth Olsen — Harold’s daughter — also participated in the event and said cancer’s effects have never stopped resonating with her.

“It blows your mind how much cancer touches everybody,” she said. “It’s astounding.”

The team was definitely in the event for the long haul.

“We got here at 3 p.m. (Friday),” Olsen said. “And we’re not leaving here ‘til 6 p.m. tomorrow.”

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