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Arlington's Relay for Life raises nearly $250,000 | SLIDESHOW
ARLINGTON — More than 1,000 people donned all shades of purple and circled the track at Arlington High School’s John C. Larson stadium for the third annual Relay for Life of Arlington on June 23-24.
The relay, a nationwide American Cancer Society event, aims to raise funds for cancer research. Arlington’s Relay for Life raised a total of $249,933 this year, after an initial tally, although additional donations are expected to trickle in for the next couple of months.
“Despite the havoc the weather created, the Arlington community once again stepped up and did a fabulous job supporting the 2012 Relay,” said Terri Bookey, an event co-coordinator. “Donations may be made through Aug. 31, so I believe we will go over the $300,000 mark. There simply isn’t a way to adequately thank everyone for their support in our fight against cancer.”
“It was a great event, it went really well,” said Leighanne Orcutt, a member of the 2012 Dream It, Hope It, Cure It Committee. The first day of the relay faced thunderstorms and heavy rain, but despite the weather, spirits remained high. “Even through that, everyone really stuck in there. It was great,” said Orcutt.
A total of 1,286 participants and 125 teams spent almost 24 hours circling the track, which started with the Survivor and Caregiver lap — a celebratory lap which begins with survivors being cheered on by crowds on the sidelines and joining caregivers at the opposite side of the track. Arlington resident Robyn Lynn is a breast cancer survivor who spoke to the crowd that was gathering to begin the relay.
“That day — September 19, 2008 — changed my life forever,” she said, of the day she was diagnosed. “I had no signs. No lump, no bump, no risk factors. I was an athlete, an organic vegetarian, I didn’t smoke. I had no family history of breast cancer.”
“They were able to remove the cancer and this year I celebrate my four year anniversary,” Lynn said, as the crowd applauded her.
“As you walk, you’re raising money for valuable resources,” said Lynn. “Your efforts to help raise money are appreciated more than we could ever say. We survivors appreciate you taking time out of your lives to do something for us.” Lynn spoke about how her diagnosis changed her life, but not necessarily for the worse. “It’s as if the world tilted a little bit,” she said. “You really start thinking about the important things in life.”
The survivor lap involved carrying a cedar bough tip around the track and placing it into a canoe as part of a ceremony of healing presented by Shawn Yanity of the Stillaguamish Tribe. “It’s a great honor for the tribe to be here and be a part of community,” he said. “The canoe represents the starting of a journey for our survivors.”
The relay featured a number of themed laps including the pajama lap, prince and princess lap, the sports fanatic lap and poker lap. Appearances were made by Disney characters, Zumba dancers and belly dancers.
Of course the night wouldn’t be complete without a Luminaria ceremony, in which participants decorated white bags with the names of those who lost the battle with cancer. Lynn urged those who attended the relay to not wait until they get the diagnosis to change their lives. The relay’s Luminaria committee used canned food to weigh down the Luminaria bags. A total of 1,025 pounds of food was collected and donated to the Arlington Food Bank.
“This is about realizing that life is short and time is precious. My life is without a doubt better after cancer,” said Lynn.
“I became a writer, a public speaker, I went back to school. I encourage you to allow the impact of cancer to let you examine your priorities. Love yourself fiercely. Be your own advocate for happiness,” Lynn said. “It’s not too late to follow your dreams. Think about who you would be if nobody and nothing else mattered besides you.”