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A colorful awareness

Vibrant ribbons throughout downtown one part of Relay For Life effort


If Newberg appears more purple than usual this month, it’s a good indicator all around — of growing awareness, increased solidarity and community support for those affected by cancer.

“The purple is for cancer survivors and it’s in recognition of all cancer types,” said Kathy Brown, who along with her sister-in-law Marty Brown is co-organizing the annual Paint the Town Purple events this month. “Each (type) has its own color, but purple is for all types.”GARY ALLEN  - Lending a hand - Newberg High School junior Gabi Molina adorns a tree with a bright purple ribbon during the Paint the Town Purple event Saturday on First Street.

Paint the Town Purple is a multifaceted effort. On May 30 dozens of people, including a number of high school students, convened downtown to kick off the purple decorations. Ribbons were tied around trees and lamp posts up and down First and Hancock streets as well as farther out at Fred Meyer, Providence Newberg Medical Center and other businesses that are sponsors of the cancer awareness events.

But that’s only part of it — the event organizers are also encouraging businesses to get into the purple mindset and adopt some measures of their own.

Suggestions include hanging posters or decorating store windows, encouraging employees to wear purple clothing, offering discounts to customers dressed in purple, printing the company newsletter in a purple theme or, for restaurants, using purple tablecloths.

“We’re celebrating our cancer survivors and also trying to commemorate those we’ve lost,” Kathy Brown said.

In addition to paying tribute, the month-long purple theme is the lead-up to the Relay For Life of Newberg on June 27. This culminating event will feature dozens of teams walking around the track at Newberg High School following the month of fundraising efforts.

“Last year we had 44 teams, this year we’re up to 50,” Marty Brown said. Each team consists of 10 to 15 people, each of whom is encouraged to raise $100 for their team for an ideal of at least $1,000 fundraised by each team.

In the past teams have secured donations through a number of avenues: from simply asking people to donate, to holding garage sales, bake sales, car washes, pop bottle drives and other traditional fundraising events.

The local business community is also involved in this part of the process, with some restaurants holding a “sponsor night” during which a portion of sales for a certain evening are donated to the cause.

“Newberg businesses have been very supporting,” Marty Brown said. “It’s a community effort.”

Last year the event raised nearly $90,000 and due to the low expenditures and administrative costs for the event the vast majority of that money goes directly to the American Cancer Society, where it is used for research and to support cancer patients, whether they need rides to their medical appointments, help with housing or other services.

People who are not participating in the actual relay are invited to the event as well, for a variety of entertainment activities and to learn what the relay is all about. The relay has a carnival theme this year, complete with a bounce house, a dunk tank and more activities provided by the teams.

“All the way around the track we have campsites for each team,” Marty Brown explained. “At their campsite each team is supposed to have a carnival game for things to do, especially for kids.”

The organizers have an ambitious goal of raising $100,000 with the Relay For Life event, but even if it doesn’t quite reach that amount it is still accomplishing its core goals.

“We’re just planting seeds, helping Newberg be aware of the need for cancer research,” Kathy Brown said.

As much as the event is about having fun and raising money, though, it is still a focus on those affected most by cancer, who will be highlighted during a short break in the track activities.

“We close down for a little while and have what we call the ‘luminaria ceremony,’” Marty Brown said. The ceremony features luminaria bags, each of which bears the name of someone who either died from cancer, is a survivor or has supported a survivor. This year’s ceremony will also include caregivers.

“Inside each bag is a little light, so the bags glow at night,” Brown said. “It’s beautiful.”

The Relay For Life of Newberg begins with an opening ceremony at 2 p.m. June 27 and will run through 8:30 a.m. the following morning.

For more information about how to get involved, call Marty Brown at 503-349-2653 or Kathy Brown at 503-317-3200.

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