Cancer fight to go all night at McCollum Park

MILL CREEK — People here are stepping up in the fight against cancer.

Volunteers for Mill Creek’s Relay for Life have set their sights on raising at least $60,000 for the American Cancer Society this year. The event at McCollum Park is set to begin at noon May 31 and continue through the night until 8 the next morning.

“Cancer doesn’t sleep,” said Tom Price, who is co-chairing the relay this year.

Price’s connection with cancer comes through his work as executive director at Emeritus Senior Living in Mill Creek. He’s motivated to battle the disease because nearly all of the 200 people living there have been touched by it.

“We have a lot of residents who, unfortunately, have been exposed to cancer in one way or another,” Price said. “This is a very personal fight.”

This year marks the third event in Mill Creek. The local relay raised about $50,000 in each of the past two years to benefit the American Cancer Society.

“We’re trying to improve upon those results,” Price said.

Though this is Price’s first of his two-year commitment as the event’s co-chairman, he has volunteered since the beginning.

Price is overseeing preparations to host about 200 people expected to attend. He is planning for up to 30 teams to take part in the relay.

“We draw a lot of people because we’re a little different,” Price said.

Most relays take place at school fields. Because this one is at McCollum Park, organizers can allow campfires and pets.

“Ours has extras,” Price said. “It’s more like a campout.”

Volunteers are lining up musicians to play throughout the event. Price said organizers hope to find local bands with a personal connection to cancer to donate their talents.

A different theme is planned for every hour of the relay. At noon, the event kicks off with a tribute to cancer survivors, who then take the first lap.

The 2 p.m. hour is focused on pets, who are expected to take a few laps around the track in costume.

Other themes for the event include pirates, superheroes, flower children and Mardi Gras.

At 10 p.m., organizers are planning a silent lap and luminaria ceremony. Volunteers place bags with candles inside to light the way around the track. Each one represents someone who has died from or is struggling with cancer. People can decorate the bags with personal messages.

“The Luminaria just gives you goosebumps,” Price said. “They light our way around the track all night long.”

Teams, such as the group from Emeritus, are already fundraising. People can check for details about events that are planned to raise money on the Relay for Life of Mill Creek Facebook page.

“There’s a lot of fun and creative ideas,” Price said. “We need all the support we can get.”

This Saturday a car wash fundraiser is scheduled. It is just one of ways teams are collecting cash to fight cancer. “Volunteers in our community are making a difference,” city Councilman Mike Todd said.

About a dozen people make up the relay committee in Mill Creek. In addition to those volunteers, many more people are involved in various aspects of the event.

Planning starts about a month after the event and continues throughout the year.

“It takes a lot to get this thing rolling,” Price said. “It’s a lot of responsibility but it’s very rewarding.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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