East Portland ‘Relay For Life’ promotes August event with ‘birthday party’

With party hats, gifts – and, yes, birthday cakes – see why this local group hopes you’ll join them at their fun summertime event, supporting the American Cancer Society …

With their way lit by luminaria – candles inside decorated paper-bag lampshades,  each dedicated to a victim or survivor of cancer – “Relay for Life” participants circled the Floyd Light Middle School track at their 2009 event last August. East Portland News file photo

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
One of the most visually-striking, and emotionally-moving fundraising events each year – to benefit the American Cancer Society – is the annual “Relay for Life”.

> Read our story about last year’s event: CLICK HERE

“At the Relay for Life of East Portland,” said its Chair, Tamara Marmol, “People come and camp out, eat, have fun, and take turns walking the track. There are constant activities and food throughout the day, and live music at night.”

The purpose of the event, Marmol reminded, is to raise $100,000 for the American Cancer Society to help with their medical research programs.

Event Chair Tamara Marmol and volunteer Karla Signs welcome guests to the 2010 East Portland Relay for Life kickoff celebration.

‘Birthday Party’ kickoff event
An activity room at the East Portland Community Center was decorated as if for a birthday party – complete with a welcoming giant inflatable clown, streamers, balloons and party favors – on February 2.

“Our theme this year is ‘Celebrating Birthdays’,” Marmol explained. “And this is our Relay for Life kickoff for our 2010 event – held August 14 and 15 – again at Floyd Light Middle School’s track. We’re working to make it bigger and better than ever. Tonight our past teams, and people interested in forming a new team, are being introduced to the event.”

Rick Rankin, of Adventist Health Occupational Health Services, says he’s thankful to be celebrating the additional birthdays he’s enjoyed – thanks to help he received from the work of the American Cancer Society.

Cancer survivor serves as team captain
One smiling face at the “birthday party” was Rick Rankin, who captained the East Portland Chamber of Commerce Relay for Life team last year.

“I am a cancer survivor of seven years,” Rankin told us. “I was diagnosed with stage-four metastatic melanoma. I was given less than a 5% chance of surviving. The day I was diagnosed, I told them that I was going to be alright; that I was going to live to be a grandpa, and be around to enjoy it.”

Thanks to professionals at the American Cancer Society, Rankin said, he was selected for a clinical trial program to treat the cancer. “That’s why I’m still here. The 18-month program of chemotherapy was pretty intense. But, because of the American Cancer Society, and the grace of God, I’m still here. I now have two grandbabies; seven years later, I’m still here. This organization does wonderful things.”

You can participate
“We’re looking both for team captains and for cancer survivors,” Marmol said. “Put it on your calendar now: it’s from 10:00 a.m. on August 14 until 10:00 a.m. on August 15.”

All the information about this event can be found at their official website: CLICK HERE to open that webpage.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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