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Relay for Life returns to central Kitsap County

The “Our Gang Raytheon” team has been participating in the Relay for Life for 18 years, earning funds for the American Cancer Society’s work to cure cancer.   - Contributed Photo
The “Our Gang Raytheon” team has been participating in the Relay for Life for 18 years, earning funds for the American Cancer Society’s work to cure cancer.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Just like every year since 2001, Central Kitsap and Bremerton will come together to participate in the 2013 Relay For Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

“We’ve had a strong relay in Central Kitsap for years,” said Eric Rock, community relationship manager for the Great West Division of the American Cancer Society, headquartered in Tacoma.

In past years, there have been more than 100 teams and more than 1,000 participants in the Relay for Life which will be June 29 and 30 this year.

To date, for this year’s relay, there are 53 teams registered with more than 500 participants and they have already raised $44,178 in pledges.

One of those teams is the “Our Gang Raytheon” team, which has been participating in the relay for 18 years.

Carol Sakavich, an administrative partner at the Torpedo and Readiness Center at Keyport, has taken part in all but the first year.

“We have a lot of dedicated people on this team,” she said. “Both employees and retirees take part.”

Most years they have from 10 to 15 people on their team who take turns walking the track for the 18 hour relay. They not only walk in the relay, but they also fund raise for weeks in advance of the event.

From book sales to potlucks to a spaghetti feed, they work as a team.

“Some years we have chili cook-offs and we get prizes donated and have opportunity drawings for those prizes,” she said.

Everything in those events, right down to the paper plates and plastic forks, is donated so that any funds raised can be donated to the relay.

Sakavich’s participation is personal.

“My mother had cancer three times and beat it every time,” she said. “So many families have battled it and I just don’t want anymore to have cancer. That’s why I participate. I know that the money raised will go for research and hopefully a cure.”

Most of the team members have known friends and family who have battled cancers of all kinds, she said.

“Some won the battle and some didn’t,” she said.

The team has sometimes dedicated their participation to personal friends or family, including former employees at Raytheon.

Sakavich also gave credit to her employer for some of the team’s success.

“They can’t sponsor us,” she said. “But they allow us to have events in the workplace and they are supportive of what we’re doing.”

Last year, the group raised $10,000. This year, they hope to meet their goal of $15,000.

“We have an anonymous donor who’s given us a $3,000 pledge,” she said. “And we’ve raised $1,800. So we’re betting we’ll get there.”

In the team’s 17 years of participating, Our Gang Raytheon has raised $142,234, she added.

The relay will be at Olympic High School, in the Silverdale Stadium at 7070 Stampede Blvd., Silverdale.  The relay begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday and continues through noon on Sunday.

Rock said originally there were two relays in Central Kitsap, one in Silverdale and one in Bremerton. In more recent years the two merged into one that is held in Silverdale.

“It’s still the traditional Relay for Life,” he said. “But this year, there’s new people in charge and there’s new life. We have some fresh faces and some fresh ideas.”

Relay for Life was started in May 1985. Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound to show support for his patients who battled cancer. Through the support of his friends, family and patients, he raised $27,000 that year to fight cancer.

The relay includes teams of people who walk around the track continually from 6 p.m. to noon the following day. Each team must keep a member on the track throughout the relay. Members get pledges from friends and family for the time they will walk the track. It is the largest fundraising campaign that the American Cancer society does annually, Rock said.

“There’s no doubt that it has grown over the years,” he said. “And certainly people become involved because they have a friend or family member or a co-worker who has been affected by cancer.”

One of the highlights of the relay is the luminaries where paper bags with candles are places around the track and are lit when darkness falls. The bags are decorated in honor of cancer victims and cancer survivors.

There also is a lap to honor survivors where honored guests who have survived cancer walk the track to show their courage and strength.

The event raises awareness of cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and support, Rock said.

Business groups, clubs, families, friends, hospitals, faith-based groups, schools and service organizations are encouraged to form teams and register for the relay.

But for Sakavich, this year’s relay will be a bit different.

“I broke my foot so I’m in this big leg boot,” she said. “I can’t walk the track, but I’ll be there cheering them on.”

More information is available at www.RelayForLifeOfBremerton.org.

 

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