The calm atmosphere changed dramatically when Bree Casey asked people to unleash a barrage of noise for a full minute.
“Scare cancer. Let them know we’re not going to stop until it’s gone,” Casey, 18, told the crowd from the speakers’ podium at the start of the Relay for Life 24-hour event last Saturday at Redmond High.
Screaming and clapping ensued among the 33-team, 320-person crowd from the Redmond and Kirkland areas. The event kicked off at noon on Saturday and ran through 8 a.m. on Sunday. At press time, the group had raised $94,670.69 for the American Cancer Society.
Casey, a Redmond resident, not only spoke at the event, but she was a member of the Hunting for a Cure team, chaired the Survivor committee and co-chaired the Fight Back committee. Her mother, Michelle, co-chaired the Relay for Life event.
Michelle took the microphone to discuss the many local cancer survivors before they walked a lap — led by the Redmond High cheer squad — before the teams began their trek.
Giving a nod to the American Cancer Society’s 100th anniversary this year, Michelle noted about the survivors, who told the crowd their names and how many years they’ve been cancer-free (the years ranged from one to 20-plus): “You can see from the beginning to the end of the line, how far we’ve come.”
“Relay for Life is the signature fund-raising activity for the American Cancer Society and honors cancer survivors, anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer and remembers those lost to the disease,” Redmond City Council member Pat Vache added about the American Cancer Society’s mission while reading a proclamation signed by Redmond Mayor John Marchione and Kirkland Mayor Joan McBride. Money raised helps support research, education, advocacy and patient services.
“It’s an important event, and I like the (American Cancer Society’s) whole idea of the ’24 hours because cancer never sleeps.’ That’s a great notion to get across,” Vache told the Reporter later during the event.
Kirkland resident Beth Dotson is a Relay for Life co-chair and began participating in the event nine years ago when her mother died from ovarian cancer.
“A month after I lost her, I met somebody that did Relay and it was a healing process for me to get involved. Now I do it for her (my mother) and to help other people,” she said. “It feels amazing seeing everybody out here and everybody joining in to fight cancer.”
As Kirkland’s Kathy Kubista, 69, strolled around the track, she said she was thankful to be a 4-and-a-half-year survivor of breast cancer. She participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure before, but this was her first time out at Relay for Life.
“You always see the big telethons and movie stars, but it’s us — our community,” Kubista said of the local event. “The people that I go to church with or live next door to, you want to be part of the solution of finding an end to breast cancer, and all cancer.”
During the survivor lap, Redmond’s Lyle Burns, 71, waved his hands to the beat of the music and had a skip in his step.
The three-year multiple myeloma survivor participated in his fourth Relay for Life.
“The ‘C’ word is a nasty word to me, and I’ll do anything and everything I can to support it,” said the member of the Super Cancer Eating Turtles team.
People also honored their loved ones during the event’s luminaria, which featured lighted candles in decorated paper bags for those who have passed away from cancer.
Redmond High students Emma Chao and Michael Schach and Interlake High student Marie Hayman were some of the younger people involved in the event. Hayman and Schach had grandparents who died of cancer, and Chao’s sister, Stephanie, died of synovial sarcoma (a tumor in the leg muscle) six years ago at the age of 15. Chao’s mother, Kathy Kahn, is a breast-cancer survivor.
As she took a break from walking at the start of the event, Chao said that she participates in honor of her sister.
“I just love to come out here, especially with a lot of my friends,” she said. “It’s all worth it. It’s a really great experience.”