Relay for Life team to "paint Lynden purple"

Published on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 by Steve Guntli

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The North Whatcom Relay For Life team is celebrating their 10th year raising money for the American Cancer Society, and they’re pulling out all the stops. 

The relay will take place at the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center in Lynden on Friday, June 20. More than 400 people, forming more than 40 teams, have signed up to participate, and have already helped raise nearly $75,000.

Over the last decade, the group has helped raise nearly $1.5 million, a number that event co-chair Tami Anderson calls “truly amazing.”

Anderson has been involved with North Whatcom Relay For Life since 2008. While the event itself is centered in Lynden, Anderson hopes to see support from all over north Whatcom County. 

“We want to see everyone from Birch Bay, Blaine, Sumas, Nooksack and everywhere else come out,” Anderson said.

In honor of the anniversary, Anderson, along with co-chair Stacy Van Beek and 18 volunteer committee members, wants to make this one a relay to remember. On June 10, Anderson and her team, with approval from the Lynden Chamber of Commerce and the mayor’s office, “painted the town purple” to celebrate the 10th anniversary. Volunteers decked out locations along Hannegan and Meridian streets with purple banners, ribbons and balloons.

On June 12, some local businesses will donate 10 percent of their proceeds for the day to the organization. Participating businesses will be identified with a purple ribbon in their windows that reads, “We’re in!” Businesses can choose to donate 10 percent for the day or for only a portion of the day. Lynden’s Papa Murphy’s Pizza has pledged to give 20 percent of their proceeds for the day. 

Half a dozen food vendors have signed on to provide food for the relay, to be capped off on the morning of Saturday, June 21 with the Relay’s annual pancake breakfast, sponsored by the Lynden Fire Department. 

This year’s event will feature a special ceremony to honor those who have helped raise funds over the years, the cancer survivors who have benefitted from the advances in cancer research and all the loved ones who have succumbed to the disease over the last decade. 

Pantene will also be sponsoring a hair drive, where people can donate their locks of 8 inches or more to cancer patients who have lost their hair to chemotherapy treatments. 

The relay itself takes place at night. “Cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither do we,” Anderson said, quoting Relay For Life’s unofficial slogan. For a 24-hour period, teams of volunteers walk or run around a track. Teammates camp alongside the borders of the track, tagging in and out until they reach their goal. Each team needs to try to keep at least one member on the track at all times. Luminarias, paper bags illuminated with candles, are set out after dark as a tribute to friends and family members who lost their battles with cancer. 

The North Whatcom relay is one of three Relay For Life events held in Whatcom County. Western Washington University hosted their relay on May 17, and a third relay in downtown Bellingham will take place on July 11. 

Anderson said that it’s not too late for teams to sign up or reserve camping space around the track, but slots are going quickly. Admission is free, regardless of participation. To make a donation, purchase a luminaria or reserve a campsite, email Tami Anderson at tamilynn1@comcast.net. For more information, visit relayforlifeofnorthwhatcom.org.