FIGHTING with their FEET
Forest Grove Relay raises $70,000 for cancer research, awareness
They had to walk all day and all night to do it, but the 200-plus cancer survivors and their families, friends and congregation members who gathered at the Neil Armstrong Middle School track last Saturday for the 2014 Forest Grove Relay for Life succeeded in raising more than $70,000 in donations for cancer research and awareness.
Every dollar counts, said Brenda Kintz, a cancer patient and co-chair of the fundraising team Fight Like You Mean It!
Four years ago, Kintz was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, an extremely rare cancer that has no known cure. Since then she has fought a constant battle with the disease while raising funds and teaching others about her condition and about the American Cancer Society (ACS), where the $70,000 will be donated.
Besides providing research money, ACS also provides essential services for cancer patients. The only hospital equipped to treat my cancer is in Seattle, Kintz said. ACS pays for my transportation and lodging to get there.
Thanks to fundraising efforts like Relay For Life, cancer survival rates have increased dramatically over the past 20 years, mostly due to better education, which helps patients detect symptoms and seek treatment sooner.
I was not aware of what my body was telling me, so I did not get detected until 2010, said Kintz. I had to have seven abdominal tumors removed and now the pigment in my hair is gone.
But Kintz never gave up. You have to be ready to put up a fight for your life, to fight like you mean it. Hence the name of my group.
Perhaps the most aptly named group given Saturdays sweltering heat was Bedes of Sweat, from St. Bedes Episcopal Church on Elm Street. Members of the group were dressed in bright yellow capes with BOS written in Comic Sans script across the back.
My husband Kerry got dressed in tights as Superman earlier today, said Eldena VanderZanden, the leader of BOS and one of the top individual fundraisers. VanderZanden herself survived breast cancer in 2000, and since then has raised money from 14 states and two foreign countries by writing letters that tell her story. I spin a good yarn, she said.
The 63-year-old VanderZanden planned on walking 57 laps more than 14 miles for her friend Karen, another cancer patient. She ended up walking 74. I get a bead for each lap from the group, Well Walk for the Cure, and Im going to make a few necklaces out of those beads to give to Karens daughter.
Participants were encouraged to dress up as superheroes, pirates, animals or Disney characters, depending on that hours theme. BOS was well represented on the track at 6 p.m., the Crazy Hat hour.
They call me Goofy of Arabia, said David Morelli, who sported a hat that bore the likeness of Disneys Goofy character and also covered the back of his neck like a keffiyeh.
While neither Camryn Pilatti nor Rebecca Frawley wore very silly hats, they had a much bigger goal on their minds. The two 11-year-old cousins were hell-bent on walking 104 laps, the equivalent of a marathon, in memory of their relatives who had died of cancer.
When Im done Im going to drop on the ground and sleep, Rebecca said with a giggle. Pilatti and Frawley were among seven BOS members who walked the 26.2-mile distance over the course of the Relay.
But even 100 laps didnt compare to what Shannon OBrien aimed to achieve. The former PE teacher at Neil Armstrong set out to walk 150 laps, and was already halfway done by 6 p.m. Saturday. This is the same track I would run my kids on when I taught here. I want to be a good, physically fit role model, said OBrien, whose face was sunburned pink. If I can do it, they can do it.
Of the 29 teams at the Relay, Kintz Fight Like You Mean It! came out on top, raising $6,825.
While $70,000 is a good chunk of change, the Forest Grove Relay Planning Committee is hoping for $80,000 by Aug. 31. Though the Relay is over, the opportunity to donate is still open. Find out more at fgrelay.org.
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