South Kitsap Relay for Life hosted its annual event June 2 and 3 at Kitsap Bank Stadium. Although the severe heat may have deterred some participants from coming out, event lead Tracy Sharp said the event was a success.
“As a whole, those who did show up had a good time, and they were all there for the right reasons,” she said.
Because of the new, advanced turf field and track, Sharp, her team and all participants had to abide by a few new rules this year. For one, they couldn’t have any food on the track or field.
“A lot of our teams provide dinner or sell food for their fundraisers, which is a reason some couldn’t participate this year,” Sharp said.
Another new additional guideline affected the Luminaria ceremony: The lanterns couldn’t hold real candles with a flame, but needed to use battery-operated versions instead to protect the turf. But Sharp assured, they still had the same effect.
Even with these obstacles, teams who came out to participate immersed themselves in the theme: “Game Over, Cancer.”
“People did a really good job decorating their tents with our theme,” Sharp said.
One team set up its booth like the game Minecraft where participants could try to knock down the fort they built. Another had a large Seahawks tailgate display saying “Cancer: 0 Relay For Life: 98234” (that isn’t the real number, but Sharp said it was big). And the Kitsap Chief Petty Officer Spouse Association had a battle ship-themed booth with games and prizes.
“People had a lot of fun and really got into the theme,” Sharp said.
Sharp has been a part of Relay for Life for 14 years, when her sister invited her to be a part of her team. Then, in 2010, when their father passed away from pancreatic cancer, Sharp decided to go from participant to committee member.
“This is my third year as an event lead for South Kitsap Relay,” she said. “But this year I had help with a co-lead, Carlene Briones, and having help was nice.”
To start planning the event, the committee began meetings in October to come up with ideas and themes. Then in January, they had a kick-off event with all participants, including teams and survivors from the previous year.
When the event kicks off in June, the schedule stays relatively the same. Sharp said it includes an opening ceremony in which someone speaks on behalf of the event. This year, 13-year-old cancer survivor Joie Goninan told her story and what the Relay for Life means to her.
“She has a great story and did amazing,” Sharp said.
Every year, the survivors participate in the first lap. Once it gets dark, it is time for the Luminaria ceremony in which participants and donors honor loved ones who have fought against this unforgiving disease.
“A lot of people come just for that ceremony,” Sharp said. “We have names scrolling on the big screen of people who have been diagnosed or who have bravely gone on. It’s a really nice thing.”
Saturday is highlighted by the closing ceremony.
After it’s all over, the Relay team hosts a final wrap-up to announce the totals earned and to share in a potluck to close the year.
This year, it is taking place June 27 at the First Lutheran Church at 6 p.m. All are welcome to join.
“It’s a really good thing we do. And it’s never to late to get involved,” Sharp said.