They walk for their wives, their husbands, their parents and their children. Sometimes they walk for themselves.
Breast cancer, skin cancer, leukemia, prostate cancer, lung cancer … the list of deadly culprits is as endless as the list of loved ones cancer has taken away.
This weekend, starting today at 5:30 p.m., more than 250 islanders will come together in an all-night effort to find a cure.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life will take place all over North America this weekend to raise money for treatment, research and patient support — from the highest of high-tech research to simple things like helping people with the sometimes not-so-simple task of getting to treatment.
The Survivors Lap will kick off the evening-long walk in what has become the nation’s largest single fundraising walking event, raising more than $400 million in 2007. Of that, $68,000 came from San Juan Island.
Through the night, participants will walk and take turns spelling their teammates, raising money to find a cure. When people aren’t walking, they’re talking with teammates, eating, sharing stories or chatting with others throughout the night. The football field is filled with tents and shelters and voices of the participants.
There are lots of ways islanders can get involved and show their support. Last year, one young man, Wolverine distance runner Otto Schmidt, raised money his own way — not as a member of a Relay team, but by running laps throughout the night.
There’s always room for more people, said Deanna Osborn, now in her fourth year as event organizer. Known as a tireless and selfless crusader for the event, she seems to always speaks in exclamation points.
“Get involved!” the purple-clad, bead-bedecked whirlwind of energy said. “There’s still time. Sponsor someone on a team. Come to the event Friday night!”
During the event, there will be activities and games for everyone, she said.
This year’s featured speakers will be Jackie Altier-Roth, Sonja Zarek and Dr. Carolyn Haugen, whose daughter Krissy lost her husband Craig Miles to cancer three years ago. She’ll share the list Craig made after he found out his time was limited about how to live a more fulfilling life.
Kickoff ceremonies are at 5:30 p.m. today with the Survivors Lap. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. The Luminaria Ceremony, a beautiful and introspective event, will take place at 10 p.m. For those who don’t know, Luminaria are hand-decorated paper bags placed at even intervals around the track and lit from within by a candle. Each bag has a name on it of someone touched or taken by cancer.
The event will come to a close 11 a.m. Saturday.