Saddling up for Relay 2005

POULSBO — Giddy up!

When it comes to the ongoing fight against cancer, that’s the chosen charge of the North Kitsap Relay for Life Committee this year to the residents of North Kitsap.

Having kicked around ideas for the 2005 Relay for Life, to be held July 9-10 at North Kitsap Stadium, the group finally lassoed “Relay Roundup,” giving NK’s sixth annual event a flair for all things Western.

The first chance to jump on the Relay bandwagon will be Saturday at Sons of Norway in Poulsbo, in an event that will officially saddle up this year’s fund-raising activities.

The 24-hour walk-a-thon is already off to a positive start with 15 teams set to go and many more in the wings.

“I feel good,” said this year’s Relay chairperson Linda Schow, concerning current planning of the event. “At this point we’re focusing on getting new teams and retaining as many as we can from last year, and also picking up new sponsors.”

Schow, whose involvement in the Relay spans the duration of its North Kitsap existence, lost her mother, step-mother and a close friend to cancer and cancer-related diseases.

“When I think about it, it’s staggering — and that’s why I relay,” Schow said. “I relay for them and all those who have to face (cancer) with the hope that we will find the cure.”

The event not only helps preserve the memories of those who have died of cancer in the past, but it helps to fight the disease, one of the deadliest in the world, through fund-raising. Last year’s North Kitsap event raised more than $115,000 for fighting cancer.

And the three Kitsap County relays — North, Central and South Kitsap — are no strangers to success, this past year having raised $309,335 between them. That figure is also the third highest per capita total of the 12-state western division’s 348 total relays in areas with populations between 150,000 and 250,000.

The North End goal this year is $130,000. And Schow said that one of the truly wonderful things about the annual event is that more and more of the money donated is staying in the community from which it is donated.

“As the community becomes more and more aware of relay, more money is raised to fund cancer research ... and more money comes back (to) the area,” Schow said.

The event hit an early bump in the road as the North Kitsap School District will be resurfacing the high school track and field in July. The traditional third weekend in July time-slot will be taking a one year hiatus, moving instead to the weekend before, July 9-10.

The change in date shouldn’t affect participation, Schow noted, stating that those who participate in the Relay for Life are very loyal to the event.

“Once you catch the relay spirit, it’s not something you walk away from,” Schow said. “It’s something you want to stay involved with.”

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