Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 5:12 PM on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Relay for Life prepares for fourth successful year

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer

Around and around and around they go. Where they stop all depends on finding a cure for cancer.

That philosophy sums up Relay For Life, a two-day event supporting the American Cancer Society's search for a cure. Patterned after relays happening around the world and the three previous relays in Homer, this year's event will be June 8-9.

"The meaning behind it is to celebrate all the people who are survivors, remember all those we've lost and to fight back. That's what Relay is all about," said Marilyn Parrett, event chair and a breast cancer survivor. "And we're raising dollars for research and services to help people who are currently going through their treatment."

Ways to participate:

• Register as a survivor on the web page, attend the survivor reception at 5 p.m. June 8;

• Register as a participant;

• Join a team or go it alone;

• Donate to a participant;

• Purchase a $5 luminaria for a survivor or in memory of someone;

• Come to the Homer High School on June 8-9 and walk and enjoy the activities.

The Homer Relay will be held at Homer High School. With the track currently closed, the action will take place in the practice field and parking areas in front of the school. It begins with a reception for cancer survivors at 5 p.m., followed at 6:15 p.m. by Relay's first lap, solely for cancer survivors, each of them wearing purple "survivor" T-shirts. A luminaria ceremony is scheduled for 11:15 p.m., celebrating those battling the disease and remembering those who lost their lives to cancer. The event continues through the night, wrapping up at 3 p.m. the next day.

This year brings to an end Parrett's two-year commitment to be event chair. Assisting her are Tammy Ackerman, Dawn Cabana, Jennifer McClay, Shelly Fraley, Linda Mishler and Parrett's husband, Randy. The search for a new event chair and more volunteers is underway.

"It is just such a big help to have these people," said Parrett.

In 2009, Homer's first Relay For Life attracted 22 teams, 60 survivors and a total 257 individual participants. The dollar amount raised was $67,000. The following year, numbers dropped to 12 teams, 58 survivors, a total 152 participants and $65,720 raised. In 2011, there were 19 teams, 55 survivors and a total 200 participants raising $91,000.

The level of involvement in 2011 earned Homer several prizes: third largest Relay per capita; largest growth; and the "101 Dalmatian Award" for the event with the cutest puppies, namely "Team Puppies," youngsters that raised more than $2,100.

This year's fundraising goal is $77,000. With three weeks until Relay, there are 16 teams ranging in size from two to 20 people, 45 survivors, a total 134 participants registered and $44,881 raised so far.

Numerous local efforts have boosted the fundraising effort. Last weekend, a garage sale raised more than $1,500, and a fish fry at Fresh Catch Café raised another $1,200.

Future events to raise funds and/or awareness include:

• May 20: "Crochet For a Cure" at CommuKnitty Stash at Yurt Village. Dye a premade wristband for the price of $10, all proceeds going to Relay, between 1-4 p.m.

• May 26: The first Scott Harding Fish-To-Cure-Cancer Halibut Tournament, with headquarters at 73925 Kyllonen Drive in Anchor Point and an entry fee of $25. The emphasis is on catch-and-release, with photos used to back up fishermen's boasts. For $50, a fisherman can keep his or her first fish; the second one costs $100; 7 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call 399-4658.

• May 31: A fun run organized by the Kachemak Bay Running Club, with details being finalized. "They're showing their support of our cause and hoping to bring more attention to it, because if we stay healthy, that helps us to keep ourselves cancer-free," said Parrett.

• June 1: "Paint the Town Purple" in which volunteers spread purple, a color associated with Relay For Life, throughout Homer; noon.

Team Puppies is back this year. Co-captains Delilah Ferraro Harris and Sophia Tricamo Park, a second-grader and a first-grader, respectively, have been joined by a third co-captain, Neviya Reed. The team is sponsored by local dentist Vickey Hodnik.

The youngsters have been selling lemonade, led by the entrepreneurial efforts of team member 8-year-old Hannah Vance, as well as baked goods and treats. They also will offer kid-type activities during Relay to help raise additional funds.

"Don't be afraid to bring your kids to Relay, because they will not be bored," said Sophia.

Of her motivation to be involved in Relay, Sophia listed family and friends who have had cancer. She also recalled an encounter with a sea otter that died after beaching itself on the Spit. The diagnosis: cancer.

Pancan Warriors, a team of high school students, is new this year.

"The father of one of the boys passed away from pancreatic cancer," said Parrett. "They are such a dynamic team, amazing young people. ... If you see them, be sure and support them. They're doing great things."

Ackerman participates in Relay because of its power to bring people together with a common goal: fighting cancer.

"It is a network of people who know what it means to hear the words 'you have cancer' and know what it is to live that diagnosis, from the first thought that something is wrong, to the tests, follow-ups, multiple doctors, appointments all the time, surgeries, treatments and, then, recovery and the fear of it returning," she said.

"Relay gives hope that our friends and family will not have to hear those words, hope that we will not have to go through a second battle. Hope that less and less people die each year."

The list of sponsors for the 2012 Relay For Life of Homer includes 28 businesses and organizations.

"It's pretty exciting," said Parrett. "The more they heard about it, the more they wanted to help."

For more about Relay for Life of Homer email relayforlifeofhomer@gmail.com or visit relayforlifeofhomer.org.

McKibben Jackinsky can be found at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.