A walk with hope

Cancer relay hits dollar mark before walking even starts


June Marion of Dallas walks in the Survivor Walk during the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life at the Dallas High School track Aug. 2. Marion has been cancer-free for 11 years.

DALLAS -- Dry eyes didn't last long at this year's American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

Then again, neither did the tears.

The second annual relay was held on the Dallas High School Track Aug. 2 and 3, from noon to noon.

This year it was named in memory of John LaFountaine and Bud Seibert, both lost to cancer.

LaFountaine served as principal at LaCreole middle school until 1989. He passed away in 2001.

Seibert was raised in Dallas and was a large part of the community until his death in 1999.

Relay for Life drew a group of approximately 430 participants, ranging from small children to the elderly.

By working together they met their goal of $61,000 before the relay ever started -- a first in Oregon for an American Cancer Society relay.

The money didn't stop there. By the end of the relay the amount had exceeded $80,000, almost doubling last year's total.

Aug. 5 the money was still coming in. A total of $80,450 had been counted, and more pledges were on their way.

This money will now be dedicated to cancer research, education, advocacy and service.

The relay was, on all accounts, a total success.

"I thought it was fantastic," participant June Marion of Dallas said.

"We had a lot of fun and we got the job done."

This was Marion's first Relay for Life, and definitely not her last she said.

Aside from walking or running the track participants had many other things to do.

Throughout the 24 hours there were musical performances, activities, contests and prizes. Bingo lasted from midnight to 3 a.m.

Each team of 8 to 12 people set up a tent with themed decorations and were judged for awards.

For Amy Bollman Lowery of Dallas, the most touching events were the Survivors Walk and the Luminaria Ceremony.

During the Survivor's Walk cancer survivors took to the track and walked around it once together. On the second lap their families joined in.

"When you see all those people it's a really moving thing and it really puts it in perspective," Lowery said.

"And this is only a fraction of the people inflicted."

Last year's relay was in honor of Lowery's father John Bollman who lost his battle with cancer in 1997.

At 10 p.m., the Luminaria Ceremony drew many hot tears as friends and family of those who lost their lives to cancer lit candles in paper bags and set them around the track.

But as they turned to face the bleachers they saw four giant letters spelling one small, strong word: HOPE.

That night, 1,104 lights lit the way for relay runners and walkers.

"My son is three and a half years old," Lowrey said. "And he did his best scribbling on a bag for my father."

Despite some sorrowful memories, the relay ended in joy.

In the last hour the relay was $750 short of $80,000. Hoping to raise the remaining amount of money Jerry Fast announced to the crowd that he would shave his head if they did.

As the clock approached noon, and the end of the relay, Tammy McCammon and Renae Lacy of Monmouth realized not enough money had been collected.

So they approached the front and announced that if the goal of $80,000 was reached they would also shave their heads.

In approximately five minutes $800 more had poured in.

As part of the closing ceremonies McCammon and Lacy sat with Jerry Fast in front of everybody and had their heads shaved as the crowd screamed.

"I don't regret it at all," McCammon said, whose hair length used to pass her shoulders.

"That much more money can go to cancer research. It's just hair. Hair grows back."


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