'Relaying' a message: Relay For Life of the Woodburn Area raises over $66,000 in the battle to end cancer
Hundreds gathered at Centennial Park Friday to walk, wheel, mingle, jog, boogey and otherwise party their way through the annual Relay For Life of the Woodburn Area.
The 13th local incarnation of the international American Cancer Society fundraising event, organizers said Woodburn participants collected more than $66,000 this year, with more donations expected to trickle in through the coming weeks.
Relay co-chair Don Judson said that number is a bit of a drop from 2013s $78,000, which was surprising, considering that this years event boasted more sponsors and more teams.
According to our American Cancer Society representative, all of the Relays are down this year, Judson said. Were not sure why that is.
Still, this years contribution puts the Relay For Life of the Woodburn Areas total donations in the past 13 years at more than $950,000.
Thats pretty impressive for a little town like ours, Judson said. Were expecting that next year, well crack a million dollars, which will be really exciting.
Judson said the Relay board may consider changing the length of the event at its wrap-up meeting in September.
He said the American Cancer Society gives individual groups a lot of freedom in organizing an event that fits their community, and some have curtailed their Relays to a six-hour, one-night event much shorter than the 18- and 24-hour marathons of the past.
In Woodburn, Judson said, though the Friday festivities are popular and well-attended, the Saturday morning ceremonies tend to draw a much smaller crowd. And, he added, the lions share of the fundraising is accomplished before the event starts anyway.
But those potential future changes did not affect last weeks Relay in the slightest. Though organizers did not keep a formal tally, at least 300 area residents were in attendance Friday for music, dancing, fun activities, food, friends and laughs.
Speaking at the opening of the Relay, Woodburn Mayor Kathy Figley said shes often asked if the Relay For Life is a sad event.
Theres nothing sad at all about celebrating life, and all the wonderful things that make life wonderful, she said. And thats what this event is all about.
It was a time for celebration, as when the group of purple-shirted cancer survivors took the first, much-deserved lap around the Relay track, to cheers and applause.
But it was also a solemn time, as people shared memories of loved ones who lost their battle with cancer, either with a microphone from the main stage, or silently, through a bouquet of flowers, a homemade tribute or a luminaria bag lining the track as the sun set.