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Columbia County ready to Relay for Life

CRF&R team honoring Martyn


by: FILE PHOTO - A member of the Boy Scouts of America sounds the opening of the 2011 Relay for Life. This years Relay kicks off Saturday at 10 a.m. and goes through Sunday at 10 a.m.This weekend, St. Helens High School will host a fundraising event to combat cancer — and relay teams will be challenged to try to keep one person on the school’s track for 24 hours.

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 27, and go until 10 a.m. Sunday.

“During that period of time, people will be on the track on a constant basis,” said Bridget Kiene, the American Cancer Society’s community relationship manager for Columbia County.

While the relay itself, along with “carnival events” like a bouncy house and dunk tank, is just for fun, the teams from local businesses and civic groups have been raising real money.

“They do fundraising all year long, and then they participate,” Kiene said.

The Columbia River Fire and Rescue team will be selling flowers and ceramic “firefighter boots” at the event in honor of former member Patrick Martyn, a city councilor and ex-firefighter who died of cancer last December.

“We decided that this year would be in his honor,” explained Marit Nelson, Columbia River Fire and Rescue finance director.

Nelson said her team has also raised money from garage sales and by selling T-shirts earlier this year.

According to Kiene, the American Cancer Society expects to raise $100,000 from Columbia County’s Relay for Life this year.

Luminarias, or lanterns consisting of a candle inside a small paper bag that can be decorated, will be available at the event, with a suggested $5 donation per lantern. The idea is for the track to be illuminated at night by the candles lit to honor cancer victims and survivors, Kiene said.

Kiene described the event as “very empowering.” She noted that the Relay for Life motto is “Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.”

“Certainly, having this kind of event allows us really to do those things: to celebrate, remember, and really feel like we’re fighting back by raising money,” said Kiene.

Nelson called Relay for Life “really therapeutic” and said she hopes to see strong attendance.

“Every year, it’s just something that brings us all together,” Nelson said, noting that every member of the team knows someone who has struggled with or died of cancer. “Getting together and honoring those people is very powerful.”

St. Helens Mayor Randy Peterson issued a mayoral proclamation on Monday, July 22, designating this week “Paint the Town Purple Week” in honor of Relay for Life and encouraging citizens to participate in the event.