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Valley residents ready to celebrate survival, fight for a cause at Relay for Life

August 14, 2013 · 5:40 PM
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The Yoshitomi family lights candles as darkness falls and luminaria glow at last year's Snoqualmie Valley Relay for Life. Hundreds walk, jog, skateboard and roll during Relay, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. / Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

The white bags started collecting last fall. By now, Bev Jorgensen’s got more than 300 luminaria at her North Bend home, awaiting the big moment at this weekend’s Relay for Life of Snoqualmie Valley.

Jorgensen, a committee member and leader who is deeply involved in the annual Valley fundraiser for American Cancer Society, started making the luminarias, or paper memorial lanterns, back in October.

This Saturday, more than 800 of the flickering lanterns will light up Torguson Park.

Each luminaria celebrates a family member, a friend, a spouse lost to cancer.  Through the past year, Jorgensen and fellow volunteers have collected them as they’ve met others whose lives have been indelibly touched by the disease.

For Jorgensen, Relay for Life is a way to recall the too-many people in her life who she’s had to say goodbye to too soon because of cancer.

It’s also a moment for celebrating those who are winning their battles with cancer.

“Cancer isn’t sleeping,” she says. “We can’t sit back and hope that it goes away. We need to battle it together.

“If I can help in any way, I feel like I’ve served a purpose,” she added, “helping somebody get over a little hump of hurt.”

Relay of many

Relay for Life of Snoqualmie Valley starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug 17, at a new site for 2013: North Bend’s Torguson Park, 750 E. North Bend Way.

To date, 24 teams, of 181 participants, have raised $34,923 for the American Cancer Society and its programs.

Relay combines fundraising with a get-together of cancer survivors, friends and family. It’s part camp-out, part entertainment festival, and part marathon, as participants walk for 24 hours as part of their donation effort.

Participants join teams of walkers and anyone can get involved. Newcomers are welcome to come and walk for an hour or less. Not every team has a full complement of 15, so visitors are welcome to take part. There are vendors and fundraisers to take part in as well as a number of games and activities.

Young people are also welcome. This year, a team formed for children age 11 to 13. They’re called the Waterfall Raisins, and they’ve dedicated funds from bake sales and garages to the cause.

“Everybody has been touched by cancer at some point,” says Julie Bergstrom, chairwoman of the Valley event and a North Bend resident. For some, cancer remains frightening and immediate. That’s why it’s important, says Bergstrom, to spread the word about Cancer Society efforts to help.

“We have groups to support you with assistance or just hold your hand through the process.”

Bergstrom, who has lost a brother and sister to cancer, has been involved with Relay for two years.

“The Snoqualmie Valley has such a strong community,” she said.

Jorgensen is involved with two teams connected with her mail-order business, Party Lite, of 29 people. The teams have a goal of $10,000. They’re a quarter of the way there, but Relay teams have a tendency to bring in the bulk of proceeds at the last minute, she says. Relay teams have until the end of August to meet their goals.

North Bend’s August event is one of the last Relay for Life events in the region. And, with its downtown location, more people will see it and be aware of it, says Jorgensen.

• Lighting of the Relay for Life luminarias begins at 9:45 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17. Live music will be performed by Liam Wright of Fall City.

• You can learn more about Snoqualmie Valley Relay for Life, sign up or donate at http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?pg=entry&fr_id=50796.

 

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