Lifestyle

North Whidbey's Relay for Life gets personal

Members of the Skagit Valley College Relay for Life team, The Suncatchers!, (from left to right) Kathleen Pendleton, Lauren Cribb, Vicki Hartman, Brittany Weisinger, Amanda Crist, Leila Theophilus, Douangchanh Sidavanh, Vanessa Majestic, Cinthya Casas, Jay Landingin and Regine Granados. - Photo courtesy of Brittany Weisinger
Members of the Skagit Valley College Relay for Life team, The Suncatchers!, (from left to right) Kathleen Pendleton, Lauren Cribb, Vicki Hartman, Brittany Weisinger, Amanda Crist, Leila Theophilus, Douangchanh Sidavanh, Vanessa Majestic, Cinthya Casas, Jay Landingin and Regine Granados.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Brittany Weisinger

When 23-year-old Brittany Weisinger decided to participate in Relay for Life of North Whidbey, she simply did it for fun. Weisinger is studying nursing at Skagit Valley College in Oak Harbor and thought it would be nice to contribute to a student team.

“I thought I’d just join the team and raise a little bit of money,” she said. “Two weeks later I found out my mom had been diagnosed with breast cancer.”

Now Weisinger is North Whidbey’s top fundraising individual. This year’s relay has more than 1,200 participants, and out of all of them, Weisinger has raised the most money, having collected $1,965 so far.

Weisinger said she sent out letters to her friends and family seeking donations.

“Since I can’t support my mom by being next to her or sitting with her during chemotherapy, this is my way of showing her I’m there,” she said.

Weisinger was born and raised in Virginia, where her mother currently lives. She and her husband moved to Oak Harbor about two years ago because of his Navy career.

Though Weisinger said she’s been in the Relay of Life before, it never had a personal meaning. Her grandmother passed away from breast and lung cancer but Weisinger said she was too young to feel the impact of the loss.

“Cancer has never hit me so close to home,” Weisinger said. “It takes a whole different aspect when it comes to people you admire. My mom is my best friend.”

Weisinger said she’s excited to attend the event on Friday and see the similarities between Oak Harbor’s event and the ones she attended back home. She said she encourages people to donate anything they can to the American Cancer Society because even the smallest amount can do a lot of good.

On the Relay for Life website, the American Cancer Society describes how donations of all sizes are put to use.

The website states that $5 can provide an hour of toll-free access to the National Cancer Information Center, providing support and valuable information for a newly diagnosed cancer patient anywhere in the country; $10 can provide a petri dish for cancer research, essential to the life-saving work of scientific discovery; and $20 is the cost of dividing DNA taken from five of the 1,200 cases during the American Cancer Society’s Prevention Study II, which helps researchers understand the genetics of cancer.

“Just the money you would spend on a gallon of gas can go to helping do something,” Weisinger said.

The 2011 Relay for Life of North Whidbey gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday, June 3, and runs through 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4 at North Whidbey Middle School’s track in Oak Harbor. For information about participating, email aprilstar@silvana.org or mnhoppock@gmail.com or simply visit www.cancer.org.

As of Friday, 115 teams were signed up to walk this weekend and $98,100 had been raised. The second top fundraising individual is Dawn Glavick with $1,605.

 

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