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Health and hope shine at Relay for Life

Donations still needed to meet goal for funding cancer research


A campsite decorating contest, limbo, tug of war, water balloon toss and Halloween costume fashion hour, plus music, food and plenty of laughter: This sounds like a day at summer camp. However, it is the short list of activities at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Lake Oswego, held last weekend at Lake Oswego High School.

This annual event is characterized by hope, healthfulness and a concentration on the positive.by: J. BRIAN MONIHAN - National Charity League volunteer Elle Mayer prepares to place decorated luminaries around the Lake Oswego High School track. The bags contained candles set in sand and were lit at dark in a special ceremony to honor those with cancer.

“We’re all about providing an opportunity for the Lake Oswego community,” said event co-chairwoman Rhonda Cohen, who started Relay for Life in Lake Oswego seven years ago. “People just need to come and experience what we’re trying to share.”

The American Cancer Society holds Relays for Life in communities throughout the United States. Teams sign up and hold fundraisers for several months leading up to the relay; the proceeds are used to fund cancer research.

This year, 272 registered participants and more than 100 walk-ins logged countless miles around the track from noon Saturday until 9 a.m. on Sunday in Lake Oswego.

At Saturday’s opening ceremony, guest speaker Melissa Wong, a Lake Oswego resident and associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University Department of Dermatology, spoke about the progress being made to isolate a gene that is believed to indicate the risk of getting cancer.

Later in the afternoon, Ritu Sahni, medical director of the Lake Oswego Fire Department, taught CPR to the crowd.

by: ERIC SAMUELSON - The head count this year's Relay for Life was 272, plus more than 100 walk-ins who came to join their friends and family after the event started.

Mike Hasson, founder of The Hasson Company Realtors, was the keynote speaker at the Survivors’ Dinner.

“He spoke about hope, fighting the good fight, not giving up and knowing your body,” said Cohen.

Hasson encouraged people to listen to their bodies as he did before he was finally diagnosed with cancer.

“He knew something was wrong and saw several doctors who said he was ‘just fine’ before he found one who diagnosed that he had cancer,” said Cohen.

A late evening tradition of the Relay for Life events is the luminaria ceremony. Luminaries, paper sacks filled with sand and a candle, are created in honor of those who have died from cancer, those battling it now and those who have survived the disease. These candle-lit bags are arranged around the track and then lit at dark, spreading the track with a glow of hopefulness.by: ERIC SAMUELSON - The light from the luminaries created to honor those with cancer added a hopeful glow to the night.

Wilsonville resident Mark Hornibrook shared the story of his cancer, its impact on his family and the miracle of his treatment and remission at the luminaria ceremony.

Relayers took the early morning chill off with toast and tea at 3 a.m. and greeted the sun with freshly baked pastries and a stretching class at 7 a.m.

As of Sunday afternoon, the 22 teams participating in the Relay for Life of Lake Oswego had generated $57,000 of the $95,000 goal. Donations will be accepted through Aug. 31 for this year’s event and can be made online at relay.acsevents.org or mailed directly to the American Cancer Society, 0330 SW Curry St., Portland, OR 97239, with the notation to Relay for Life of Lake Oswego at the bottom.

Those interested in being involved in the 2014 Relay for Life in Lake Oswego should contact Cohen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call 516-749-9447.




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