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Cash still flowing in for San Juan's Relay for Life
22 teams raise $66,102 as of weekend, with more money coming in
More than 300 walkers kept up the pace lap after lap, determined and relentless, throughout the night Friday.
Many chatted amiably with others supporting the cause: to find a cure and support those in the fight against cancer in all its forms.
By all measures, this year’s American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life was an impressive success. Compared to last year’s 34 teams raising $71,000 for the event, this year’s 22 teams did one better: by Saturday morning’s closing ceremonies, organizers had counted up $66,102, “with more coming in,” event Chairwoman Deanna Osborn said Monday.
“I’ve got another $103 that was brought to work today.” She and co-chairwoman Vicky Thalacker put together a committee of determined and able lieutenants to put the complex fund-raising event together.
Widget Webert headed the Soroptimist Club team, which raised $10,425 — tops for the event. Her team didn’t do it using exclusively on-island sources.
“I made a lot of off-island calls,” Webert said. “I used the Internet. I received donations from all across the country. More, because when I went to off-island sources, people were willing to give. The poor people here have been tapped out for all sorts of causes.”
Webert said her team was so successful that she has been approached to teach a workshop for the other teams in how to raise off-island money.
Overall, she was fairly philosophical. “The only winning everyone is trying to do is find a cure,” she said. “Being a leading fund-raiser is a good thing. It makes everyone else enthusiastic too.”
According to the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life is the largest multi-venue fund-raiser held in North America each year, raising $407 million in support of cancer research, treatment and patient support.
For the 300 or so local participants in Friday night’s event, the event was filled with activities including “Prom Night,” in which participants walked around the track dressed in their best high school-era finery — although it wasn’t clear whether many did it in heels. Other events included a watermelon-eating contest, a doughnut-eating contest and a tug-of-war.
Dana Bune won the Prom Night event; she wore her prom dress with jeans and cowboy boots on underneath. “It was quite a nice look,” she said.
Apparently, Bune distinguished herself by winning in other costumes as well: Glenda, the good witch of the North; and Sponge Bob Square Pants, when the cartoon costume contest rolled around.
“Every hour was a different costume,” Bune said. “It essentially got you going and having fun the whole night. I was the local dresser-upper.”
Bune said that each participating team raised money prior to the event, but not every team kept people on the track all night. Bune singled out John “J.B.” Boyd’s team, the Tenacious Track Trekkers; EMS Chief Jim Cole’s team; the Islanders Bank team, and the Soroptimists as having someone on the track throughout the night.
“I had a blast,” she said Monday, “I could barely walk the next day, but I had a blast.” Bune said she walked 14,000 steps throughout the night. “I measured it,” she said.
For cancer survivor Seanene Kennedy, the event was personally meaningful. Along with 55 other survivors, including several residents from Village at the Harbour, she walked the survivors’ lap to kick off the event.
“It was truly extraordinary,” she said. “Deanna did such an amazing job.”
Carl Stoddard walked the survivors lap with the tenacity and exuberance that enabled him to beat cancer four times.
“Nobody’s picking on me, I’m just like everyone else. Since the doctor whacked you on the rear end (at birth), something out there’s trying to get you. The world is eat or be eaten,” he said.
Stoddard has beaten bladder cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer (“I’m in a standoff with him,” he said), and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
“We’re just standing off with our dueling pistols looking at each other,” he said of cancer. “I told the doctor over in Bellingham, ‘If you say this thing’s got a five-year guarantee, I’ll work like hell to see if I can get to 90.’ ”
Of Relay for Life, he said, “That’s a wonderful program. All these people staying out there all night long, walking around and around and around.”
There were three speakers to kick the event into high gear: Jackie Altier-Roth, Sonja Zarek and Dr. Carolyn Haugen.
Altier-Roth related her experience of beating breast cancer last November. Zarek held everyone in rapt attention when she told of the process of losing her life-partner, Lin Bowman, to metastasized brain cancer last year. Haugen related Craig Miles’ “List to Live By,” points worth remembering as one makes their way through life.
Scott Bell kept the music rolling throughout the night, D.J.-ing the event this year on a P.A. system with one blown speaker. It didn’t matte;his infectious good humor and inspiring music kept people’s spirits up throughout the night.
“It’s all for a good cause,” Webert said. “We all had a good time. And it didn’t rain.”