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South Whidbey Relay For Life to take place June 20-21

LANGLEY — The 2008 South Whidbey Relay For Life is in the final two weeks of preparation. South Enders will walk for a cure June 20 and 21.

There are now more than 200 people working tirelessly to raise funds and create activities for the overnight event that supports the American Cancer Society.

Participation hit a record high this year.

“Community participation has doubled this year,” organizer Peter Andersen said. “Last year we had eight teams and only six people on our leadership committee, this year we have 12 on the committee and 20 teams.”

The teams pledge to celebrate those who have fought cancer and are with us today, remember those who we have lost, and fight back against the devastating disease.

Andersen said he is involved in Relay For Life because he believes in the American Cancer Society’s mission to eliminate cancer.

But his motivation to help put on the local event hits closer to home.

“I also volunteer for Relay For life in honor of my father Marvin and my only sibling Linda who were lost to cancer way to early in their lives,” he said.

The two-day walking event will start early Friday, June 20, with set up around the South Whidbey High School track.

The opening ceremony is set for 5:30 p.m. The survivors will make the first lap around the track, and then will be treated to dinner. At roughly 6:30 p.m., the teams will take to the track and begin their first lap of the 18-hour event.

Activities include the Survivors Dinner where cancer survivors will be honored and fuel up for the two-day walk.

There will also be a mock jail where notorious local “celebrities,” including Langley Mayor Paul Samuelson, School District Superintendent Fred McCarthy and Record editor Brian Kelly will find themselves in need of bail.

Jail organizer Ginny Nelson said other people shouldn’t be surprised to find that a warrant is out for their arrest. People can nominate friends and family for a little jail time.

“It’s a great time and we raise money for a good cause,” Nelson said.

A silent auction will be held and a dunk tank, an inflatable bouncing house, camping sites, mini stores, food booths, entertainment, education and prevention information and carnival activities will go up around the track to keep walkers going through the night.

While participants circle the track, the silent auction will open.

Other entertainment at the event includes “Anybody Can Dance” from 8 to 9 p.m., a movie, the

Mr. Relay Contest, marshmallow golf, face painting, fortune telling and more. Activities go on all through the night, and family carnival activities will take place Saturday morning until 11 a.m.

The highlight of the night is the Luminary Ceremony to honor those lost at 10 p.m. Friday.

“Relay For Life is all about honoring cancer survivors and remembering those friends and family we’ve lost to cancer,” Andersen said. “Luminaria gives us the opportunity to revisit our lost loved ones and remember their battle with cancer and their amazing strength and determination

during their journey.”

It’s a moving ceremony.

“We walk around the track and look at all the names, pictures and words of love and loss on the luminary bags. It’s good to remember,” he said.

Anyone wishing to do a remembrance luminary candle bag can either contact any of the teams or come to the event to arrange it. People can decorate the bag, put a photo on it, or have one decorated by the school kids who are participating.

The twenty teams include China City, Curves Langley, Freeland Chamber, Fernandes/Holocker Family, Langley Middle School Builders Club, Kiwanis, LDS Lappers, Maple Ridge Survivors, Olys Olympians, Party Lite Inspiration, Porter-Whidbey, Sound Business Center, Senior Services of Island County, South Whidbey Rotary, South Whidbey High School Cheerleaders, South Whidbey High School Key Club, South Whidbey High School S Club, Wells Fargo Bank, Wescott Floor Covering, Whidbey General Hospital and Whidbey Island Bank.

Anyone who wishes to participate in the event is welcome to come. Anyone who wishes to volunteer, help raise funds prior to the event, start a team, donate an item to the silent auction or contribute in any other way should contact Andersen at pba@whidbey.com or Virginia Bloom at vbloom@soundbusinesscenter.com or 331-3132.

Michaela Marx Wheatley can be reached at 221-5300 or mmarxwheatley@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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