Honoring the Survivors, Remembering the departed
July 17, 2012 11:21 pm

Balloons are released to mark the beginning of the Relay for Life. Cancer survivors took the first lap around the track. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
Balloons are released to mark the beginning of the Relay for Life. Cancer survivors took the first lap around the track. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
Memories of loved ones – survivors of cancer and those who did not – were evoked and honored Friday night at the Relay for Life of Curry County 2012 as people listened to inspiring speeches, dressed in costume to show their spirit and walked all night to raise money for cancer research. 

“It was fabulous. I think that, and this is just my opinion ... I think people get a little bit more seasoned every year to this,” event chair Vanita Roland said. “I think in functionality it’s smoother. It’s wonderful to see the community come out for it. I think it was probably one of the best Relays ever.”

To date, $52,863 has been raised, but Curry County Relay 2012 doesn’t close out until Aug. 31. There is still money floating around that hasn’t been turned in, Roland said.

“It’s pretty cool especially in our unfortunate economic times to be able to do that,” she said. “That’s a lot of hard work from people.”

This year, 11 teams participated in Relay, which was held at the Brookings-Harbor High School track. The theme was “Magic of Relay.”

Town and Country Animal Clinic received Best Costume for their Alice and Wonderland costumes and Best Baton.

C & K Market won Best Campsite.

“It was Candy Land,” Roland said. “If I was a child I might have died and gone to Heaven. I thought I was in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, is what it was like.”

Les Cohen, Ryan Webster and Adam VanCleave judged the three categories.

While the judges awarded points, walkers and joggers began to circle the track. Each pushed forward for their own reason.

Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative Inc. team member Rose Gabrielson walked for her husband who just got out of the hospital. He has cancer.

This is the first time that the Gabrielsons have participated in Relay; their goal was to raise $1,500. On Friday, they had more than reached their goal – raising $2,500.

Fred Meyer team member Mariya Christow participated in her third Relay this year in honor of her grandmother, who passed away from cancer.

Christow was determined to walk for two hours.

Brookings Presbyterian Church team member Gudrun Cheshier walked in Relay to honor everybody – the living and the dead, and for a cure.

“We all have our own experience,” she said. “We all have a story. We’re all trying for the same goal – that a cure will be found.”

Finding a cure has special meaning for Cheshier.

She was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer last year. Even with regular mammograms, it was missed for eight years. 

She returned from treatment around last year’s Relay. This was her second year participating in Relay.

Darwin Olson, vacationing from southern California,  was visiting friends who work at CCEC. They asked him if he wanted to walk.

He agreed, and participated in his first Relay Friday.

“We’ve all been affected,” he said.

While every part of Relay is special, a few moments stood out, Roland said.

They included Grand Marshal La Vonne Peterson’s speech, and the Badge of Courage speech (a new addition this year) by Teasha Curren.

“These are women who are in the prime of their lives, so listening to them, and what they have to say and their words of encouragement … that to me, that’s always a highlight,” she said.

Roland also enjoyed watching people ring a cowbell when money was deposited, and the sit-down meal for survivors and caregivers.

“It was great. It was awesome,” Roland said. “We had wonderful community spirit here. If it were not for this committed group of individuals, Relay would not be successful.”