Walking for a cure

By Bill Schlichting, Pilot staff writer July 19, 2013 01:42 pm

The first lap of the Relay for Life is taken by cancer survivors during the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser at the Brookings-Harbor High School track.

The Curry County Relay for Life didn’t reach its $60,000 goal, but it was so close that organizers figure if they schedule one more fundraiser, the goal will be exceeded.

The annual event held at the Brookings-Harbor High School track last weekend raised $57,314, only $2,686 from the goal.

According to Kristin Villavicencio, this year’s event co-chair who will serve as chair of the 2014 Relay for Life, the additional fundraiser will be sometime in August.

“The event was a huge success in the fact that we brought several new teams to the Relay for Life this year and more who plan on getting started for next year,” Villavicencio said.  “Also, there was a Gold Beach presence at this year’s relay which we haven’t seen in awhile. We look forward to seeing more of them at next year’s event.”

Relay for Life fundraising, which benefits the American Cancer Society, began earlier this year with the amount growing as the event at the track drew near.

Teams raising funds gathered at the track for their final fundraising push which began with a survivor luncheon followed by opening ceremonies. 

Festivities included a color guard and the national anthem sung by Alyssa Gallian, followed by speeches by American Cancer Society dignitaries and Grand Marshal Roger Gabrielson, who thanked all those who supported him through his cancer battle. Villavicencio and Dorothy Marshall sang “Courageous” while the survivors lined up on the track for the first lap. When the survivors neared the end of the lap, members of the Brookings-Harbor High School cheerleading squad presented each walker with a sunflower.

Each team’s members took turns carrying a baton around the track for the next 19 hours.

Fourteen teams set up campsites on the football field and decorated them. A group of judges came down from Coos Bay to choose which campsite was best decorated. They also chose their favorite baton.

The best campsite was the Good Sam Dream Team and the award for the best baton went to Town & Country Animal Clinic.

While a team member was walking the track, other team participants took part in activities, such as various themed contests, a cardboard box competition, a Mr. Relay pageant and a Midnight Madness team captain party.

Winning the competitions were Good Sam Dream Team, spirit award; C&K Market, Mr. Relay; Town & Country Animal Clinic, cardboard box contest; and Good Sam Dream Team, birthday wagon contest.

Highlighting the nighttime events was the somber Luminaria Ceremony. Paper bags decorated in memory of a loved one who has battled cancer, whether they survived or not, were placed around the inside of the track.

“We had a record number of luminaria at our luminary ceremony this year with almost 400 on the track,” Villavicencio said. 

While names were read, everyone at the event walked a lap holding a candle.

For more information about the American Cancer Society, call 800-227-2345 or visit http://www.cancer.org.