‘Relay for Life’ gets slow, but sure start

With 16 teams and an organizing committee hard at work, the 2013 Relay for Life of Homer is lining up to be a success. 

“It’s going good,” said Marilyn Parrett, co-chair for the event, adding there’s been a bit of a slow start, which she attributes to a long winter. “Usually spring is kind of invigorating and you feel that energy to move into Relay season, but this year we’re still kind of getting our inspiration back.”

This year’s Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, will be held in the parking lot of Homer High School on June 7-8. A survivor reception will happen at 5 p.m. and opening ceremonies are at 6 p.m. June 7; the closing ceremony is 2 p.m. June 8.

“Last year was a banner year,” said Tammy Ackerman, the second co-chair. 



“We raised just over $100,000, but with the passing of a few of our close friends, the (number of) teams have kind of dropped a little bit.”

Some new teams are being formed. Among them is Team Paula, formed in memory of Paul Setterquist, who lost her battle to cancer in January. Among the returning teams is Coop’s PanCan Warriors, formed by Kelly Cooper and her family in 2012 in memory of Cooper’s husband, Jim, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2011. Cooper is chairing this year’s sponsorship committee. 

“It’s going well, but when people see ‘American Cancer Society’ they feel like the money doesn’t stay here in Homer or in the state of Alaska,” said Cooper, quick to dispel that notion. “It really is local. It’s right here in Homer.”

Using her own experience, she added, “When Jim was sick, the American Cancer Society helped us by trying to find discounts on airline tickets when we needed to fly up (to Anchorage) for treatments before the treatments were available here in Homer. If you have to travel Outside, the American Cancer Society helps with plane tickets and with lodging if it’s available.”

A local breast cancer closet has been established by ACS in Homer, providing female cancer patients with wigs and special clothing needs and ACS volunteers stand ready to help patients attend chemo treatments and other medical appointments. Support also is available for caregivers.    

“They’re an invaluable resource,” said Cooper, who admitted that before participating in last year’s relay, she anticipated it would be an emotionally sad experience.

“The thing people don’t realize is that cancer is tragic, but when you go to relay you have the ability to see people who have been touched by cancer that you had no idea were touched and you see survivors you had no idea ever battled the disease,” said Cooper. “I was worried about it being a sad thing, but I was amazed at how much fun it was fighting back and celebrating the people that did make it. It was uplifting.”

As in past years, music plays a big part, encouraging relayers to continue circling the course between the Friday start and Saturday finish. Sophia Parks, member of Team Puppies, will perform the national anthem. The Mile 8 Band is the headline act, with other musicians performing round the clock. 

To date, 101 participants have signed up for the 2013 relay with a total $14,900 raised. Hard at work to increase the total, the following events have been scheduled:

• Wine tasting and decadent dessert at the Homestead Restaurant, 6 p.m. May 3. The evening is sponsored by the Clowning For a Cure Team. It features Washington red wines and a decadent dessert and auction table. Tickets are $30 a person. Reservations can be made by calling the Homestead, 235-8723.

• Garage sale, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. May 11. Sponsored by First National Bank Team; place to be announced. 

• Members of Team First National Bank will be wait-staff-for-a-day at the Boatyard Café, on May 18, with the café donating a portion of the proceeds that day to the relay.

• Lemonade and bake sale sponsored by Team Puppies, some of Relay’s youngest participants; time, date and place to be announced.  

• Fun run and spaghetti feed at Alice’s Champagne Palace; date and time to be announced. 

• A surprise flash mob by members of Coop’s PanCan Warriors.

• Paint the Town Purple, June 5. Relay for Life organizers and teams decorate Homer with purple balloons and ribbons in preparation for the June 7-8 Relay for Life.

Anyone wanting to walk in Homer’s 2013 Relay for Life and not on a team can sign up on the new “Cyber Cancer Tamers,” a virtual team, by visiting www.relayforlifeofhomer.org.

To know more about Relay for Life of Homer, contact Tammy Ackerman, 299-1994, or Marilyn Parrett, 299-3256, or email relayforlifeofhomer@gmail.com.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.