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Cancer relay aims to spread hope

Relay for Life organizing committee member Toni Matthews helps the Scarecrow (Kyler Jacobs) and Dorothy (Kaitie Jacobs) navigate through the Relay for Life. -
Relay for Life organizing committee member Toni Matthews helps the Scarecrow (Kyler Jacobs) and Dorothy (Kaitie Jacobs) navigate through the Relay for Life.
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MARYSVILLE In the six years Jerry Jacobs has fought cancer, he has been through three series of experimental treatments. He only recently left the hospital following the third attempt to extend his life.
Thats what this is all about, Jacobs said. Without fundraisers like this, those treatments arent going to be there.
Theres no place like Hope is the slogan for this years Northern Snohomish County American Cancer Society Relay for Life, which takes place June 7-8. But Jacobs and about 30 others gathered Jan. 17 for a kick-off event in The Barn in Jennings Memorial Park. Besides helping to sign up and organize participants, the kick-off was designed to heighten the visibility of the June Relay, said publicity chairperson Carol Funkhouser, a cancer survivor who shares many of Jacobs opinions.
If it wasnt for cancer research, I wouldnt be here, she said.
For Jacobs, the evening was a bit of a family affair. Local event co-chair Dawn Martin is Jacobs sister-in-law. Further, daughter Kaitie, 14, and son Kyler, 13, both took part in a skit that played off the Hope slogan. Kaities involvement with the Relay didnt end with the skit, however, as she is acting as this years youth liaison.
Founded 20 years ago by a Tacoma physician, the Relay for Life has grown to be what the American Cancer Society touts as its best known fundraising event, held in 4,200 communities and having raised more than $1 billion toward cancer research, education and patient services.
Relay for Life is about inspiring hope, celebrating survivors, remembering those we lost and finding a cure for cancer, said Tracy Anderson, the second chair for the local Relay and another cancer survivor. This kick-off is to reinforce the fact that a community can make a difference in the fight against cancer.
During last years Relay at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, 40 teams raised $154,000, Martin said. In fact, statewide, the Marysville Relay trailed only the Tacoma Relay in dollars raised.
For this year, Martin hopes to increase the take to at least $164,000.
Described as a family oriented event, Relay for Life asks teams of participants to walk, run or even stroll in shifts around the high school running track for 24 hours. Participants usually camp out around the track, enjoying food and entertainment when not taking their turn on the field.
Traditionally, after dark, a luminaria ceremony begins, honoring those whove survived or are battling cancer, as well as serving as a remembrance of those who lost their battle. In what one assumes was a sort of preview, organizers of the kick-off rally turned down the lights and handed out light-up flowers to a dozen or so cancer survivors in the audience.
Teams can begin registering now for this years Relay, planned again for Marysville-Pilchuck. Registration is $100 per team before Feb. 17, $125 after that date. Call Becca Gheen at 425-322-1123 or go to www.nsnocorelay.org.

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