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The annual American Cancer Society community fundraiser, set for July 27-28, celebrates 20 years in Crook County

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Relay For Life teams always decorate their campsites and have various activities throughout the 24-hour relay.

Crook County Relay For Life celebrates its 20th birthday next month and will honor those who have lost their cancer fight and celebrate cancer survivors.

"We want to recognize how many extra birthdays they've had," said Pam Jackson, a cancer survivor and one of the local event chairs. "We'll be celebrating each survivor."

The annual American Cancer Society fundraiser has moved from the Crook County Fairgrounds back to Ward Rhoden Stadium, where it started 20 years ago.

"We're going to the stadium for a little bit better placement and to be seen a little bit more," Jackson said.

Relay For Life is an organized community fundraising walk. Teams of participants camp out around the track, and members of each team take turns walking around the track for the duration of the event. Food, games and activities provide entertainment and build camaraderie during the family-friendly event that is open to the community.

"This is to recognize, honor and celebrate all that have in any way fought a battle with cancer," Jackson said.

Although the event is well over a month away, teams have already begun raising money, working to reach their $60,000 goal. And, they invite others to form teams and join the Relay.

Festivities get underway at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 27 at the track and football field and continue through 10 a.m. Sunday, July 28.

"Cancer patients don't get to quit. They have 24 hours, seven days a week that they have to continue fighting this," Jackson said. "By having the relay for 24 hours, it's supporting them in helping to fight for 24 hours a day."

Jackson chairs the local event for the first time this year with her daughter, Kristi Jackson, and Justine Hill.

They have selected "Passports to a Cure" as the theme for the 20th Crook County Relay For Life. Each team — so far there are nine — has selected a different country and will decorate their campsite. Participants will get to "travel" to places like Australia, France, Bali and Canada to fill their passports. The center stage will be the USA area where people can check in and get their passports. They will then travel around the track to visit each team's campsite and get a stamp in their passport.

Grace Deboodt will sing the National Anthem to start off the event, followed by a Survivor Lap. Cancer survivors will walk a lap of the track, celebrating their birthdays since being diagnosed with cancer. Caregivers will then join them for a lap.

"We're going to have a rocking chair area for those that still want to be involved and can't walk as much, so they can just find a rocking chair and have a seat," Jackson said.

Members of the Prineville Lions Club will serve lunch Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There will be a silent auction, a luminaria ceremony to remember those fighting and those who have lost the battle to cancer, movies during the night, and activities and challenges throughout the Relay. Teams will earn points for participating in activities, and the team with the most points will be awarded a trophy Sunday morning.

Prineville woman Judy Caudle, who has lost loved ones to cancer, will be the inspirational speaker during the Mission Moment.

While some plans are still in the making, Jackson said there will be plenty of activities for people to enjoy during Relay For Life, and they encourage the community to come and learn about the various programs the fundraiser supports.

One such program is American Cancer Society Road to Recovery, which provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves.

To bring awareness to the program — and have some fun along the way — Relay For Life teams will construct cars out of cardboard boxes and will compete. Using their cardboard cars, team members will pick up the patient and take the patient to their treatment.

"It symbolizes the fight that the patients have getting back and forth," Jackson explained.

Funds raised at the Crook County Relay For Life help the American Cancer Society fund cancer research, critical patient care services, education and prevention initiatives, and more.

"It's supporting cancer survivors, cancer fighters, anybody that is in that field that's having to fight that fight as well as their families, the caregivers, and what they're going through," Jackson said.


Crook County Relay For Life

To donate or join a team, contact Angie Heffner at the American Cancer Society, 541-480-4415 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call local chair Pam Jackson, 541-390-6366.

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