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Joy beats cancer in the Relay for Life of North Whidbey

Hours before the Relay for Life of North Whidbey kicked off Friday, the areas surrounding North Whidbey Middle School were crammed with cars, trucks and trailers. The track quickly became a miniature city, filled with tents, booths and all sorts of decorations. Neighboring teams shared food, banners, tips and laughter. The purple-clad warriors were ready to begin their journey of hope.

Though many in attendance had lost loved ones to cancer’s clutches, the atmosphere of the event was joyful. As more and more people packed the track, cancer seemed less and less like a deadly disease and became an opponent easily defeated.

“My mom had cancer, but she beat it,” 15-year-old Orenda Doughty said proudly as she filled luminaria bags with sand.

Hundreds of luminaria bags were placed on site with messages of remembrance and support scrawled across their fronts. “In celebration of Doreen Strobel,” read one, “one of the strongest women there is.” “For the fight of DeWayne Costin. We love you,” read another.

Besides words of support, the Relay for Life brought in a lot of cash for cancer patients. About $197,000 was raised for the American Cancer Society and money will continue to be collected through Aug. 31.

According to event coordinator April Wilder, the 2011 fundraising goal is $219,000. Last year, the event raised $220,000 by the August deadline.

Wilder said $35,000 was raised Friday night alone and about $65,000 was donated over the entire weekend. Additionally, Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients, picked up 110 inches of hair from on-site haircuts.

The top team this year was IDEX Health & Science, whose members brought in $13,522. The top individual was Brittany Weisinger with $2,350.

“These are just huge numbers,” Wilder said. “It was fun to see everyone pull together and support each other through this event. The energy pulled us through to the very end.”

Wilder and her friend Miranda Hoppock served as first-year co-chairs for the relay, and they said it was amazing to see everything finally come together on Friday.

Donations for the Relay for Life are still being taken online. Visit cancer.org for details.

 

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