Issaquah fights back against cancer at Relay for Life

June 5, 2012

Relay for Life draws 900 participants, $244,000 in donations

Relay for Life event chairwoman Gwen Schweitzer paused among the chaos that encircled her long enough to bend down and give her grandmother a kiss on the forehead.Around them, nearly 900 participants packed the track and field of Skyline High School’s football turf for this year’s Relay for Life on June 2.

After being diagnosed with brain cancer several years ago, Schweitzer’s grandmother made the trip this year across the state from Colfax to celebrate the day with her — a moment not lost amid the loud music, festive colors and vendor booths.

“She’s here,” Schweitzer said, tears brimming in her eyes. “She made the drive here. They gave her less than a year to live. She was in a hospice, and she rebounded. It was nothing short of amazing.”

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Come out for Relay for Life

May 29, 2012

The 2012 Issaquah Relay for Life takes place this weekend at Skyline High School.

The two-day event has a simple concept. Teams are formed. Each team must raise a certain amount for the American Cancer Society. And donors pledge money for every lap walked at a local track. The overnight event allows participants to honor cancer survivors and remember those lost to the disease.

With the idea that cancer never sleeps, team members will take turns walking around the track through the night at the event that starts at noon Saturday and ends with closing ceremonies at 8 a.m. Sunday.

The event features overnight camping on the track’s infield as well as games, competitions and music to keep everyone active.

The Issaquah event, held at Skyline High School the past few years due to construction at Issaquah High School, is 11th overall in the Great West Division, a 12-state region.

The highlight is the luminaria ceremony, where community members place illuminated bags, dedicated to someone touched by cancer, around the track, with relay participants walking one silent lap in their honor.

The goal is to collect $300,000 in donations for the American Cancer Society, according to Gwen Schweitzer, coordinator of this year’s event.

Local high school students rev up Relay for Life fundraisers

May 22, 2012

Relay — ‘a   way to live’

Iman Baghai Issaquah High School

The death of a loved one to cancer is why most people partake in the annual Relay for Life fundraising event. But Michael Cecil, a junior at Issaquah High School, has a unique and inspiring story with regards to how and why he is a “relayer.” Cecil’s mother has been diagnosed with five rare kinds of cancer throughout his life and has survived each diagnosis.

His mother’s diagnosis inspired Michael to get into Relay as a way for him and his siblings to “do something about (their) mom’s cancer.” He didn’t view it as a way of giving back, but rather as a way of “fighting back” the terrible disease that has haunted his family.

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Issaquah Relay for Life sets record-breaking goals

May 15, 2012

Teams walk around the Skyline High School track last year, fundraising for the annual Relay for Life event. File

When you have one of the most successful programs around, that essentially leaves one goal each year: do better than the previous year.

Such is the envious dilemma facing Gwen Schweitzer in her first year as the coordinator of the Issaquah area’s Relay for Life.

At this time last year, there were 78 teams signed up. This year, there are already 81, just four away from the goal, Schweitzer said. After last year’s two-day event netted more than $285,000, that left her with the goal of reaching $300,000 in 2012.

“We are one of the only mega events to raise over $200,000. Overall, the relay has seen a drop in contributions due to the economy,” Schweitzer said. “Issaquah has been lucky. We’ve seen funding increase by a small margin every year.”

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Who’s News

February 14, 2012

Renee Chaffin serves as Senate page

Sen. Cheryl Pflug and Renee Chaffin

Renee Chaffin, a sophomore at Skyline High School in Sammamish, recently participated in the Senate Page Program during the third week of the 2012 session. Chaffin was sponsored by Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R-Maple Valley).

The Senate Page Program is an opportunity for Washington students to get firsthand experience working in the Legislature. Pages get a variety of experiences in their weeklong stay in Olympia, including running errands, delivering mail and paging in the Senate Chamber. Pages are also taught about parliamentary procedure and the legislative process.

Chaffin was one of 17 students chosen to participate last week.

“Renee was a delight this week,” Pflug said. “I am grateful for her passion, and it was exciting to see her passion for government.”

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Kiwanis funds community aid through Salmon Days dinners

September 27, 2011

Key and Builders club members were among those helping out at last year’s Kiwanis Salmon Days booth. Contributed

Thanks to the great weather during last year’s celebration, the Kiwanis Club of Issaquah sold 2,500 pounds of salmon in the course of the city’s annual Salmon Days Festival event.

The community service club even ran out at about 3 p.m. the second day of the festival, according to incoming Kiwanis President Glenn Hall, who is running the group’s booth at this year’s Salmon Days.

Hall said all that fish translates to volunteers having served up about 2,200 dinners at the 2010 Kiwanis booth. Complete with coleslaw and a drink, over the years, the dinners have helped the Kiwanis raise an average of about $17,000 annually.

Hall said he believes the local Kiwanis have offered dinners every year since the inception of Salmon Days. Kiwanis organizers hope the weather this year again will be of the sunny, dry variety and they have upped their usual Salmon Day fish order to 2,500 pounds.

In past years, the Kiwanis ordered 2,000 pounds of fish and then bought more on Saturday depending on sales. The fish is grilled over alder.

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Issaquah Relay for Life raises $240,000

May 24, 2011

About 900 people walked around the track at Skyline High School on May 21-22, honoring friends and family at the Relay for Life of Issaquah.

In spite of rainy weather, 78 teams and more than 50 cancer survivors spent the night at the track, raising money for the American Cancer Society.

As of May 23, participants had raised a gross amount of $240,000. The event’s organizers hope to raise another $10,000 in tax-deductible donations by the Aug. 31 deadline through the website www.issaquahrelayforlife.org.

Though it rained on the luminaria ceremony, which invited participants to light tea candles in bags decorated with the names of people who lived with cancer, the atmosphere was still empowering, American Cancer Society community relations manager Aimee Martin said.

“I think it was symbolic of that somber moment,” she said. “There was something to be said about the rain and having it come down, because it is a sad time.”

The images on the luminaria bags looked like watercolor paintings, making them all the more beautiful, she said.

“The rain continued throughout the night, but people were troopers and they pushed through,” she said. “It goes to show the strong community that Issaquah has and the support people have for the American Cancer Society every year.”

Why they walk — teens prepare for Relay for Life

May 17, 2011

In 2000, Michael Cecil’s mother learned she had a carcinoma so rare that it had only been diagnosed in 100 people.

Now a sophomore at Issaquah High School, Cecil continues to support his mother — a cancer survivor — by walking in Relay for Life of Issaquah. He started walking in the annual event the year after her diagnosis, making this year his 10th relay.

“It’s a fun way to get a bunch of people together for a great cause,” Cecil said.

From 2008 until now, he has registered as a team captain. Like many young people his age, Cecil will stay awake for 20 hours May 21-22, walking around the Skyline High School track and thinking about life and how to beat cancer through fundraising.

Bill Zheng, a Skyline student, is leading a relay team of his own. His grandmother lost an eight-year battle with cancer, and he walks in honor of her memory.

“When my grandmother died, I was still really young. I didn’t really understand the full spectrum of everything that had just happened,” he wrote in an email. “As the years have passed, I finally have learned to accept it and I want to fight back so that more people don’t have to go through the same thing.”

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City, EFR come in third in Relay for Life donations

July 13, 2010

City of Issaquah and Eastside Fire & Rescue employees came in third in overall fundraising for the 2010 Relay for Life event. They raised more than $9,000 for the American Cancer Society and were presented with the Diamond Award for their efforts.

“Participating in Relay has become a city tradition for us,” city spokeswoman Autumn Monahan said. “Our employees faithfully support the cause through donations, volunteer hours and participation in our annual citywide fundraising event.”

The teams who raised the most money in the Issaquah Relay for Life were Team Aloha with $55,750, and Hank’s High Flyers with $9,583, according to the event website.

“It’s a wonderful way to support those affected by cancer, many of whom are our family members, co-workers and dear friends,” Monahan said.

Find more statistics about this year’s Relay for Life event here.

Walking for a cure

June 8, 2010

Relay for Life tops $225,000 goal

Above, more than 800 people, on 83 different teams, showed up to walk around the clock and raise money for cancer research at Issaquah’s Relay for Life event June 5 and 6 at Skyline High School. Photos By Chantelle Lusebrink

This year, 813 people ran, walked and wheeled in support of finding a cure for cancer at the annual Issaquah Relay for Life June 5 and 6.

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