Kickoff for this year's Relay for Life is Feb. 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the San Juan Island Library

The kickoff for this year's Relay for Life is Feb. 23, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the San Juan Island Library.

The kickoff is open to the public, particularly those interested in knowing more about Relay for Life. Last year's local Relay for Life raised $72,000 for the American Cancer Society. The kickoff party includes door prizes and refreshments.

Relay for Life is held in thousands of communities across the United States, including Friday Harbor. Thanks in part to funds raised by Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society has about $500 million in research grants in effect today. Each year, the Friday Harbor Relay for Life contributes at least $60,000 toward that cause.

The result of those research dollars? The American Cancer Society has about $4 billion in research for a cure. In 1946, 25 percent of cancer patients lived at least five years after diagnosis; today, that rate is 60 percent.

This year, Relay for Life is July 24-25, 5:30 p.m. to 11 a.m., on the Friday Harbor High School football field. Relay teams are comprised of former and current cancer patients, those who have lost a loved one to cancer, as well as families, businesses and civic organizations.

Teams collect donations and can win individual and team prizes for their efforts. Many participants camp at the relay site and, when they are not taking their turn walking, take part in fun activities and enjoy local entertainment.

This year, the Relay for Life is a countywide event; Orcas Island will not have its own Relay this year, and Orcas Island teams are encouraged to sign up and participate in the Relay in Friday Harbor.

Relay for Life brings the progress against cancer to the forefront. Many participants are our family, friends and neighbors who have dealt with cancer themselves. Their involvement is proof of the progress in not only reducing death rates, but also in improving the quality of life following cancer treatment.

Vicky Thalacker, who organizes flights for islanders undergoing cancer treatment on the mainland, said of the event last year, “The funds raised enable us to continue our investment in the fight against cancer through research, education, advocacy and patient services.”

To register for Relay for Life or to make a donation, contact chairwoman Christine Gabler Minney, 378-8928, For information about the American Cancer Society, call (800) ACS-2345 or visit

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