Marysville Getchell High School junior Kayla Dowd is one of the hundreds of people planning the Marysville-Tulalip event and those elsewhere.
Kayla, 16, is the public relations chairwoman for the relay. As a student in the International School of Communications at Marysville Getchell, Kayla hopes to use some of her new-found writing and speaking skills to let people know about the fundraiser.
The Marysville-Tulalip Relay for Life, like all the other relays, is an overnight event during which teams of people take turns walking or running laps around the field. Each team keeps a member on the track at all times. Relay for Life celebrates those who have survived cancer, helps people whose loved ones have died from cancer, raises money for cancer research and encourages people to fight cancer in their own lives, Kayla said.
Last year, the Marysville-Tulalip relay had 50 teams, honored 100 survivors and raised about $155,000. This year, organizers have set a goal to honor 150 survivors, involve 80 teams and raise $200,000.
"I think we can do it," Kayla said. "Interest is growing each year. I'm involved because I'm one of those people whose life has been touched by cancer."
A few years ago, Kayla lost her maternal great-grandmother to cervical cancer. Then her grandfather, Pat Dowd, 67, of Smokey Point, was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.
"He overcame that, but two months ago we learned that my grandpa has brain cancer. Recently we found out that his tumor has gotten a little smaller," she said. "So, this has been a journey of ups and downs for my family. Grandpa is so dear to my heart. He is a go-getter and a role model for me. The money we raise at this remarkable event can help keep alive mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers and friends."
Kayla leads her own Relay for Life team of elementary school-age students, who raised $1,200 last year. When not working on fundraising, Kayla spends Tuesdays after school helping at the food bank in Marysville. She hopes to attend Washington State University and would like to study to be a nurse.
Raising awareness about cancer research in the state and Cancer Society services to cancer patients is big part of her job, Kayla said.
And Kayla's just right for the task, said Kristin Banfield, the chairwoman of the Marysville-Tulalip Relay for Life. In her day job, Banfield is the public information officer for the city of Arlington.
"It's really exciting to see a young woman, a teenager, stepping up in her community," Banfield said. "This is a great experience for Kayla and we're already getting a lot of good work out of her."
Kayla said she is happy to help with Relay for Life.
"It's a worthwhile thing, because everywhere you look, there is cancer," Kayla said.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relay for Life off and running
The local American Cancer Society Relay for Life fundraisers include: Arlington, June 22, Arlington High School; Everett, May 18, Cascade High School; Granite Falls, July 19, school district office; Lake Stevens, May 10, Lake Stevens High School; Marysville-Tulalip, June 29, Asbery Field; Mill Creek, June 1, McCollum Park; Mukilteo, July 13, Kamiak High School; Sky Valley, June 1, Monroe High School; South Snohomish County, June 1, Edmonds-Woodway High School; Stanwood, June 1, Stanwood High School; and Whidbey Island, May 31, North Whidbey Middle School.
To volunteer or donate, go to www.relayforlife.org.
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