Clallam County Relay for Life canceled this year, but fundraising to continue

PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Relay for Life is taking a break this year but local fundraising for the American Cancer Society never stops, event chair Jennifer Baker said Thursday.

The decision to cancel the 2018 Port Angeles-Sequim relay was made in a Clallam County Relay for Life planning meeting Jan. 16.

The committee of four reached a consensus that it had grown too small to organize a 2018 relay without on-site staff support from the American Cancer Society, Baker said.

“It was a decision we didn’t want to make,” Baker said.

Organizers hope to reinstate the Clallam County relay in 2019.

Meanwhile, two Relays for Life will take place on the North Olympic Peninsula this summer.

The Jefferson County relay will begin at 2 p.m. July 7 at H.J. Carroll Park in Chimacum.

The Forks Relay for Life is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Rainforest Arts Center.

“We’re just encouraging people to participate in either the Forks or Port Townsend [area] events,” said Christina Kelly, state communications director for the American Cancer Society.

“We’re still there. We still actively participate.”

During Relay for Life events, team members take turns walking or running around a track or path for six to 24 hours.

Teams raise money for the American Cancer Society in the months leading up to the event.

The cancer organization uses the funds to support those facing cancer today and to fund cancer research that will help protect future generations.

Last year, relays in Port Angeles and Sequim were combined into one event held at Pioneer Memorial Park in Sequim.

Fourteen teams were signed up.

“There has been a decline in participation, and that kind of helped nudge that decision [to cancel],” Baker said.

The Relay for Life, which began in Tacoma in 1985, has seen declining participation in events both large and small in recent years.

“It’s a trend that’s been happening elsewhere,” Kelly said.

The American Cancer Society has merged some relays and pulled staff support for others, Kelly said.

“The bottom line is we just have to be smart with people’s money,” Kelly said.

“We have to use it in the most effective way.”

Baker said American Cancer Society programs in Clallam County are “not going away.”

“They’re still here,” she said. “We’re just not relaying.”

The cancellation of the 2018 Port Angeles-Sequim relay was announced last month on the Relay for Life Clallam County Facebook page.

“We hope to continue on through group fundraisers such as bunco nights, garage sales, bake sales or raffles, and we encourage you to keep an active eye on our Facebook page for more details, questions and future fundraising ideas,” Baker said in the Feb. 6 announcement.

“Please know that while there is a change in this year’s American Cancer Society event, it does not mean a change in our mission. ACS and the Clallam County RFL will continue to be available to support those who need us, and as always, we will continue to focus efforts where we can.

“In 2019, our relay will be completely volunteer led using DIY [do-it yourself] tools and resources, with little to no staff support; this means we have the exciting opportunity to try new things, dream bigger than ever and challenge our communities to rally together to end cancer.”

To support American Cancer Society fundraisers in the Port Angeles-Sequim area, go to www.facebook.com/RelayForLifeClallamCounty or email Baker at [email protected]

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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