More than 50 teams walked the track at Skyview High School last weekend to raise funds for a life-threatening disease.
The third annual Kenai Peninsula Relay for Life sponsored by the American Cancer Society raised $65,136.29 as of Saturday, an amount that is still growing with donations that will be accepted through Sept. 1. This year's total increased approximately one-third more than the 2000 event.
According to event coordinator Kathy Lopeman, the Relay for Life is held to raise funds to help the American Cancer Society reach its goals for 2015. Those goals include:
Increasing cancer detection by 75 percent;
Reducing cancer deaths by 50 percent; and
Reducing cancer incidents by 25 percent.
Lopeman said the money raised is disbursed as follows:
Forty percent of all funds raised go toward community programs, including prevention, detection, treatment and family services that include travel costs, prosthetic devices and wigs;
Forty percent goes toward services such as research, program development and support services;
Fifteen percent goes toward fund-raising; and
Five percent goes toward management.
Lopeman said the money raised will stay to help area programs.
"The services and community programs help people within Alaska," she said.
Other Relay walk-a-thons are held in Fairbanks, Anchorage and the Matanuska and Susitna valleys, but the Kenai Peninsula event raises a larger profit per capita, Lopeman said.
Lopeman, also an oncology nurse at Central Peninsula General Hospital, said she witnesses the funds being used in the community on a daily basis.
As of Friday, more than 750 people were in attendance at the relay and all ages were represented.
"There were babes in arms to a 97-year-old," Lopeman said. (See story, page A-9.)
"I think it is fantastic. We have a fantastic community." she said.
Lopeman said the amount of people from all walks of life and cancer survivors moved her.
"It always brings me to tears," she said.
Though Lopeman did not have the official total Wednesday of the number of survivors who attended, she said the 200 shirts made for survivors to wear turned out to not be enough for those who participated.
The event also sold 475 luminarias Friday. They were lit by community members to remember those who have died from cancer and to honor those who are battling the disease.
Aside from the walk, the event also featured an auction that raised $2,400 in one hour, a limbo contest, best bed hair contest, a hula hoop contest, a Relay scavenger hunt to find cancer facts, and a cake walk.
A hand-print quilt was started by cancer survivors placing their prints on a piece of cloth. Lopeman said they will collect prints every year at the event in order to make a quilt.
Lopeman said there were twice as many people as last year who stayed overnight at the event. Many brought tents, campers and motor homes to the relay.
Lopeman said those interested in volunteering next year should contact her at CPGH.
She said she is grateful for the community participation during the event.
"I want to thank the community as a hole for supporting this fine effort," she said. "There aren't enough words to say thank you."
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