Wilsonville resident John Holley knows all too well the impact that cancer can have on the afflicted and their loved ones. While he has endured two forms of cancer, his parents, wife and siblings have also received the fateful diagnosis.
"It's an insidious disease," he said. "Everyone knows somebody who has cancer."
But work continues to be done to find cures and to assist those who are undergoing treatment.
And through an event this month, Wilsonville residents and beyond can contribute to those efforts.
The "Hope in the Ville: Cornhole For A Cause" event will take place 5-9 p.m., Saturday, June 29 in the Piazza in Villebois. Proceeds for the event will go to the American Cancer Society, which funds research for cancer treatment and facilitates programs for cancer survivors. To register for the event, visit https://crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/hopeintheville.
"The American Cancer Society provides transportation to get to the treatment center, provides living spaces close to hospitals for families who need help staying close to loved ones and is doing research to find successful treatments," said Holley, who is the chair of the event.
In previous years, a different version of the event was hosted by Relay for Life of Wilsonville, an umbrella organization of the nationwide Relay For Life all-night run and walkathon fundraiser.
Organizers deviated from that format years ago and had to branch off entirely from Relay for Life to host this year's event.
So the 2019 iteration is organized by Hope in the Ville, which is essentially the same group of Wilsonville residents who put on the run and walkathons, and is raising money through the Rotary Club of Wilsonville Foundation, which has nonprofit status.
"Relay for Life is helping us (by providing volunteers and with registration) but it's not a Relay For Life event," Holley said.
Also, as opposed to last year, which included a variety of events, organizers felt like a cornhole tournament where teams of four must donate $100 to participate would be a better way to raise money.
"We just had individual groups doing their own activities and games last year. Some people brought cornhole; other people brought other games. We had a water balloon toss. Some groups brought music," Holley said. 'It worked fairly well. Everyone loved the balloon race and the luminaria ceremony but there wasn't an activity during the day designed to raise money."
Individuals can also attend to watch the event for free and can make donations at their discretion.
Holley said organizers moved the event from Town Center Park to the Piazza for logistical reasons.
"You have to spend thousands to rent the park and have to have a crew to clean it up. In Villebois, it's smaller, tighter and not as expensive as it is to go to other parks in town."
As was the case in previous years, the quintessential moment of the evening will be the luminaria display, where bags with the names of loved ones afflicted with cancer are lit up while attendees walk around the Piazza with a bagpipe playing in the background.
"It's a very powerful event. It's very memorable and it's quite emotional for people who have lost people to cancer," Holley said.
The event will also include music, food, beverages provided by Quench Taproom, a DJ performance and testimonials about fighting cancer and ACS services.
Holley said the ACS received $20,000 through last year's event and he hopes they raise a little more than that this year.
When Holley was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he commiserated with a friend who had the same disease. This event, he said, is a great place for those afflicted with cancer to meet people who can relate to their situation. Last year there were 25 cancer survivors in attendance.
"You get to know other people and talk to them about what treatment they have, how to help themselves get better and if they need to go to the hospital, you want to know when they're going and be there for them," Holley said. "It's a good way to get to know people."