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Teams queue up for Relay for Life

Fundraiser benefits American Cancer Society programs

— Nearly two dozen teams will take to the Okanogan High School track May 17 for the Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society.

The overnight event starts at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at 244 S. Fifth Ave.

Fundraising goal for the event is $56,000, American Cancer Society Community Relationship Manager Jennifer Kronvall said.

“It’s a wonderful way to support your community,” Team Development Chairwoman Cheral Montanez said.

Locally, the Relay has raised nearly a half-million dollars over the years, she said.

“It’s great for our little town,” Montanez said.

The number of teams is down slightly, but Montanez said she hopes the funds will come through.

Teams have been raising money all year, she said.

Her husband, Roger Montanez, is the event chairman. He pointed to a Lewis Carroll quote — “All that is really worth doing is what we do for others” — as symbolizing the Relay.

“If you feel helpless with someone going through cancer, this is something you can do,” he said.

Statistics show the American Cancer Society is making a difference in cancer detection and survival.

In 1977, cancer patients had a 22 percent chance of survival. That’s grown to more than 60 percent now, as an average of all types of cancer, Montanez said.

Screening tests for cervical, prostate and breast cancers all were developed using funds from the society.

“They have saved thousands of lives,” he said.

As a fundraiser, the Relay contributes to 350 lives per day nationwide, Roger Montanez said.

Locally, from September 2010 to August 2011, Relay money provided 300 services to 83 county patients through gas and lodging vouchers, and the Look Good, Feel Good and Reach to Recovery programs.

“Our Relay is the largest fundraising event in our county,” he said. “We’ve won national awards for raising more money per capita” than other Relays in the region.

Pre-Relay entertainment will be provided by the Ruby Rust band.

Opening ceremonies start at 6 p.m. with Steve Smith returning as master of ceremonies.

Last year’s top fundraising teams — American Cancer Society Board, Angels of Hope and TRCA Well Wishers — will be recognized.

Nurse-practitioner Phylicia Hancock-Lewis will speak about a cancer study being done locally.

The ceremony also includes survivor and caregiver recognition, an opening prayer by Dayton Edmonds, the national anthem by Coreena LaRayne, a ribbon cutting by Rebecca Lyon and the survivor/caregiver lap, led by Okanogan County Junior Rodeo Queen Trinity DeJong and other royalty.

The parade of teams is at 6:30 p.m., and the first walkers will take the track at 7 p.m.

Other 7 p.m. activities include music by Lota Duarte and Friends, Running with Scizzorz owner Stacy Looke cutting hair for donation to wig programs and the Mr. and Mrs. Relay contest.

Teams will offer various games, a bouncy house for children, and a silent auction.

Team tent sites will be judged from 8:30-9 p.m.

The annual luninaria ceremony is at 9:30 p.m., with survivor Tina Eiffert sharing her story.

An invocation and song, “Every Candle Has a Name,” are planned.

Eiffert, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2011, said she wants to encourage people to undergo screening and that her cancer could have been detected earlier if she’d sought screening.

A silent lap is planned at 10 p.m.

Overnight activities — a cake walk and carnival games — are planned to help keep people entertained. The Okanogan Eagles will offer concessions and Coffee Xpress, Omak, will offer drinks.

Saturday starts with a 6:30 a.m. pancake breakfast by the Okanogan Kiwanis Club in the school cafeteria.

The event is open to the public and free for team members; any donations collected will go to the Relay.

Edmonds will tell stories from 9-10 a.m., with the closing ceremony at 10 a.m. Boy Scout Troop No. 60 will lead the victory lap.

Entertainers include:

Friday

• 4:30-6 p.m. – Ruby Rust band (Denny Richardson, Mike Bowling, Steve Pollard, Steve Bell).

• 5-6 p.m. – North Cascades Broadcasting live remote.

• 6 p.m. – Opening ceremony.

• 6:30 p.m. – Parade of teams.

• 7-8 p.m. – Mr. and Mrs. Relay contest.

• 7-9 p.m. – Lota Duarte and Friends.

• 9:30 p.m. – Luminaria ceremony.

• 10 p.m. – Silent lap.

• Midnight – Cake walk.

• 1:30-3:30 a.m. – Carnival games.

Saturday

• 9-10 a.m. – Storyteller Dayton Edmonds.

• 10 a.m. – Closing ceremony.

Teams are the American Cancer Society Board, Angels Among Us No. 1 and No. 2, Angels of Hope, Boy Scout Troop No. 60, Committee Crusaders, For Sheri, Goof Troop No. 1 and No. 2, Home Depot Orange Burst, Hospital Heroes, Malottians in Motion, Northern Cross Rodeo Co., Norwhales No. 1 and No. 2, Okanogan Soaring Eagles, Okanogan High School National Honor Society No. 1 and No. 2, Pateros Billygoats, SunOpta Fruit Group, teamKaelyn.com, The Dream Team, The Pink Ladies and TBirds, Tonasket Tigers and Wally Walkers No. 1 and No. 2.

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