All-night relay raises hopes, funds for cancer cure

See hundreds of folks walk throughout the night and day – and why many of them say the do it …

Posing for a team photo with many of the “Relay for Life” volunteers is event chair Tammy Marmol, front row, far left.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Inspired by the theme of the 2011 American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” event, “Celebrate Life, Celebrate Good Times”, 53 teams spent the night walking the track at Floyd Light Middle School on August 13 in East Portland.

Tammy Marmol, the event chair, said although her job at the Fred Meyer corporate office in the Brooklyn neighborhood keeps her busy, she still finds time to coordinate this event “because we’re trying to save lives.”

“Relay for Life” event chair Tammy Marmol helps participants find their team.

This “Relay for Life” was her fifth, Marmol said, as she gathered volunteers and cancer survivors for a photo. “All of the money we raise stays in our community. It goes for services to help cancer patients and their families feel better, look better, and get to medical appointments.”

There’s a personal connection for nearly everyone involved, including herself, she said. “My family has been touched by cancer many times, and sadly many of my friends have been touched by cancer. I’m just trying to do my part to fight back.”

Creston-Kenilworth neighbors Karla Signs and Kirk Kelly say they’re volunteering by grilling hamburgers for folks at the event.

Mike Vistica lights several lumenaria in honor of family and friends struck down by cancer.

Pam Olson, Brian Olson, Karen Kane, and Lauren Kane are representing the East Portland Chamber of Commerce.

The leader of the East Portland Chamber of Commerce team, Karen Kane of Insurance Solutions NW, Inc., said, “This is my first time they involved with this. I decided to become involved because I realized that cancer has touched me, through family and friends, in many ways.”

In addition to leading the team, Kane said she put out 15 candle bags – called “lumenaria”. “It really moved me tonight, when I set out those bags. Beyond my work, I support events that are for health, wellness, and improving people’s lives. This event is truly meaningful for me.”

Part of the Gateway Fred Meyer team pause for a photo: Leah Hayden, store auditor; Jenny Brien, food price changer; and Debbie Ploegman, whose husband is part of the freight crew at the Gateway Fred Meyer store.

Before the event got underway, the teams had booked $66,000 in donations. After all donations were taken into account after the event, this year’s “Relay for Life” accumulated about $80,000, Marmol said.

“We have many cancer survivors on our committee this year,” Marmol added. “Some of them are actually taking treatment, as this event takes place. But, as we celebrate here tonight, I do have hope for the future – a future without cancer.”

Around the track, and around the clock, team members walk in the 2011 Relay for Life.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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