Hundreds of walkers will pull an all-nighter in Newberg's annual fundraiser against cancer

By Janis Brentano, Graphic correspondent

By the time the sun comes up June 22, hundreds of walkers will have spent the night circling the Newberg High School track in a demonstration of their unwavering support in the fight against cancer.

Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society fundraising effort, marks its 12th year in Newberg and attracts participants passionate about supporting their causeby: GARY ALLEN - Nice surroundings - Recent improvements to Loran Douglas Field make for a pleasant venue for the 2014 Relay for Life..

After losing both of their parents to cancer, the Vondrachek family has thrown their considerable numbers and support behind Newberg’s relay. With 10 siblings and a host of family members, the Vondracheks have helped make Newberg Relay for Life a success from its inception.

“Every time you think about it there is someone else diagnosed with cancer,” Tom Vondrachek said. He and all his siblings wanted to take action and help fight this disease. The Relay for Life of Newberg has been their chosen cause since 2002.

“The community has been very responsive,” said co-chairwoman Kathy Brown. “In the last 10 years we have raised over $500,000 just from the Newberg community.”

This year’s relay begins at 11 a.m. June 21 at the high school track and continues until closing ceremonies the following day at 9 a.m.

There’s a lot going on this year in conjunction with the relay, which features the slogan “Drive Out Cancer.” Highlighting the theme will be a car show with 50 or more cars of all kinds on display in the NHS parking lot.

In support of the relay and in honor of their parents, Margaret and Louie, the Vondrachek family is hosting a pre-relay fundraiser Saturday called Maggie-Lou’s Celebration of Hope. The evening event, held at the Chehalem Cultural Center, includes live music, food, beer, wine and a silent auction.

The Vondracheks expect this event to be “bigger and better than last year,” Tom Vondrachek said. They hope to raise about $6,000, which will be donated to Newberg’s Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

Sisters-in-law Kathy and Marty Brown are co-chairwomen of Relay for Life of Newberg this year, with the help of 30 additional volunteers who are leading committees and helping organize the event.

“The goals of the relay are to bring awareness, raise money for the American Cancer Society and also to honor the survivors in town,” Marty Brown said.

Forty teams comprise the event this year, including nine teams of Newberg High School students. Organizers said they are expecting about 400 people at the event this year, with more than 100 cancer survivors.

The event begins with a survivor’s breakfast, followed by the survivor’s lap and opening ceremonies at 11 a.m.

Marty Brown said there will be a variety of active demonstrations during the relay, from the NHS cheerleaders to the playful, cross-dressing Mr. Relay contest. There will also be a silent auction with a vast variety of items to bid on from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the NHS gym.

One of the highlights of the event will be the evening luminaria ceremony. The ceremony honors both the people who have survived cancer and those who have died with illuminated bags, which will line the track and spell out the word ‘hope’ in the grandstands.

For more information about Newberg’s Relay for Life contact Kathy or Marty Brown at 503-349-2653 or 503-317-3200. Find more information about Maggie-Lou’s Celebration of Hope at

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