NK Relay ropes $112,000 for ACS

POULSBO — The banner above the starting line for this year’s North Kitsap Relay for Life perhaps summed up best the fight against cancer: “There is no finish until we find a cure.”

And while that battle goes on, NK’s own event, held for 24 hours starting at 10 a.m. Saturday morning at the North Kitsap High School track, brought its community together in a common cause while also making a significant contribution to the American Cancer Society, to the tune of $112,075.51.

It is the symbolic nature of a relay, said this year’s NK chairperson Linda Schow, that makes it so successful.

“A cancer patient doesn’t get a break from cancer,” she said. “We’re here 24 hours because they have to deal with it 24 hours a day.”

Schow and a committed team spent nine months planning the enormous 24-hour event, which included continuous entertainment in the form of bands, dance ensembles, frozen T-shirt contests and even a performance by the Relay committee dancing to KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Boogie Shoes.”

The event also unites survivors, relatives and friends of cancer victims, and anyone else who has been affected by the hundreds of different types of cancers toward a common goal.

“It makes me feel the love and support of this community in the fight against a devastating disease,” said Valerie Ford of Bremerton, a victim of both Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Thyroid Cancer and participant in her fifth relay.

Ford, a member of the Keyport-area Cornerstone Church, was the cancer survivor on a team of 17, which included her sister, Sheila Jarvis of Suquamish.

“It makes me feel good that we’re raising funds for this cause, and raising awareness,” said Jarvis, who was walking in her second relay.

Especially important to Ford is the survivors’ walk, which takes place at the beginning of each Relay and serves as a benchmark of how the fight with cancer is faring.

“We can see how far we’ve come,” Ford said of the walk. “Years ago, many of these people would not be walking.”

The event’s survivors weren’t the only ones touched by cancer — numerous relatives and friends of those who have lost their loved ones to the various cancerous diseases also turned out to do their part to fight.

Sharon Streitt, of Poulsbo, part of the team “That’s what friends are for,” said she’d lost family members and about a dozen friends to cancer.

“I do whatever I can to help find a cure,” she said.

Though Michelline Aske of Poulsbo said that she enjoys each Relay she’s attended — it was her sixth — she’s hoping for a day when no Relay will be needed. Aske, who lost both her uncle and father to cancer, is co-captain of the team “Tumor Thumpers.”

“I hope that someday we won’t need to walk,” she said. “I don’t want to see other families go through what I did.”

In the meantime, the Relays will continue. And Chairperson Schow said that next year’s Relay, too, will need new volunteers. For more information call the ACS office in Everett, at (800) 729-5588, option 3.

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