This year's Relay for Life event on June 30 will center around a city-wide scavenger hunt

INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO - Relay for Life has been held at Centennial Park for several years. This year, it won't take a relay format and will be held at Woodburn Legacy Health.For 16 years, Relay for Life of Woodburn has taken place around a track, with teams that have a representative walking the track for the duration of the 18-hour event. The metaphor is that cancer never sleeps.

But, like most other Relay for Life events nationwide, the American Cancer Society fundraiser was in need of some reinvigorating.

"Over the years, a lot of us got older," co-chair Rhonda Judson explained.

The past several years have eased up on the all-night track trek, but other difficulties arose.

"Volunteers spent so much time doing it, it wasn't fun anymore," Rhonda's husband and co-chair Don Judson said. "It's hard logistically to get a lot of volunteers because you have to get everything into the park, have the Relay and move everything out of the park."

After working with their ACS partner, organizers of this year's event have decided to take Relay for Life into an entirely new direction. This year, the event will not even include a relay, but rather, the Scavenger Hunt for the Cure. The hunt's tagline, based off of an Indiana Jones theme, is "Send Cancer to the Temple of Doom."

Woodburn Legacy Health will be ground zero for the festivities, which begin around 10 a.m. Saturday, June 30, when four-person "scavenger squads" are given their marching orders.

The event will include live music, games and activities on site for those not signed up for the scavenger hunt. The evening will feature a survivor and caregiver dinner, silent auction and a Taste of Woodburn event, in which local restaurants are invited to share their cuisine.

"The problem with an all-night relay was to get people to stay overnight and to get people to come back the next day," Rhonda Judson said. "It has evolved into more of a celebration of hard work."

The evening will still include the traditional luminaria ceremony, which honors loved ones who have fought (and succumbed to, for some) cancer.

"It's important to retain that because of the impact," Rhonda Judson said. "We need that connection."

And the setup and teardown will be minimal in the new location.

"All these people who volunteer can have a fun day and not worry about that," Don Judson said.

The scavenger hunt will actually begin as soon as the week before, with event sponsors being listed on places around town to visit. And since some of them are only open weekdays, teams can rack up more points toward prizes by working on the hunt before the day of the event.

"That way we give them the publicity, but now we're also giving them something back," Don Judson said about the sponsors.

Relay fundraising teams can still raise money like they have traditionally done. That fundraising also adds more points toward the scavenger hunt prizes.

Since its inaugural year in 2001, Relay for Life of the Woodburn Area has raised more than $1.1 million for the American Cancer Society. This year's goal is to reach $65,000.

A lot of plans are still in the works, like the cost for Scavenger Squads or what form the luminaria ceremony, chaired by Cleo Freauf, will take since evening festivities will be held indoors.

But to find out more on how to sign up, sponsor or donate, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To get involved in the planning (the committee is still seeking a volunteer to chair the Taste of Woodburn event), attend meetings, which are held the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. at Woodburn Legacy Health (the next one is Feb. 28).

It's unclear whether the scavenger hunt will be a permanent feature of the Woodburn Relay.

"We're just going to see what happens," Rhonda Judson said. "We just want to try something different."

Lindsay Keefer can be reached at 503-765-1193 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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