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Participants ready to walk the Survivors’ Lap at the inaugural Liberty Lake Relay for Life event in 2011.

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LL readies for third annual Relay
6/26/2013 3:05:02 PM

By Brenna Holland
Splash Contributor

On July 19, hundreds of people will take a step to ending cancer. Relay for Life will come to Liberty Lake and inspire a community to stand against a disease that has affected so many lives. 

The relay will begin Friday evening and last until Saturday morning. The event is a continuous overnight community fundraising walk where each member of a team takes a turn walking around the track. 

Relay for Life began in May 1985. Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours straight in Tacoma, raising $27,000 and donating the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. Since this first relay, the movement has raised more than $4 billion.  

Although the primary concern of Relay for Life is to build awareness and fuel fundraising for the American Cancer Society, the relay is also an epicenter for fun and hope. At Liberty Lake's Relay for Life, events include face painting, a silent auction, several kid-friendly events sponsored by the Home Depot, a bouncy house, performances by local bands (including bagpipes), fun laps and Kiwanis will again be providing breakfast for racers the next morning. 

The relay also fosters a community atmosphere, where current survivors can connect to those who have battled the disease, fundraising for the cures, and participants can remembered those who have been lost to the disease. 

Jean Simpson, one of the co-chairs of this third annual Liberty Lake Relay for Life, believes that the community will support the event while still having a good time. 

"It is my hope as co-chair of the event that our community will support this event by participating in raising money for the American Cancer Society, or form a team or sponsor us," she said. "This family-friendly event is a great way to spend the Friday evening - walk, talk and meet new people in your own neighborhood." 

Simpson has been participating in local Relay for Life events for the past seven years. At the Liberty Lake Relay, Simpson has served as the entertainment chair until this year. Simpson shares the duties of the event with co-chair Jane Murphy. 
"She is the brains and organization behind out committee; I am just the passionate person who is trying to motivate people in getting involved," Simpson said.

Murphy moved to Liberty Lake in 2011 from upstate New York. In the past, Murphy volunteered as the accounting/registration chairperson. Murphy continued her passion of participating in the Relay for Life when she relocated to Liberty Lake. 

"I wanted to be active in my new community, and since I have lost loved ones to cancer as well as several friends that are struggling with cancer, I felt this was a good choice," she said. 

Simpson has ambitious plans for Liberty Lake's third year of hosting the Relay for Life. The co-chair hopes that the event grows each year and becomes the largest relay in the area. 

"Liberty Lake is a wonderful community and we have the potential to grow here," she said. 
As of The Splash's press deadline, 12 teams and 45 participants had raised more than $7,000, according to the Relay's official website. 

When asked what motivates them to take such active roles in the event, Simpson and Murphy attributed their involvement to personal losses and experiences. 

"Well, after losing my husband to this disease, having several family members who are survivors and so many friends and customers - well, I guess I just want it all to end," Simpson said. "I want a cure for this dreaded thing. Don't we all?" 

Murphy, who has also lost a loved one and has several friends who are struggling with cancer, answered that a common humanity inspires her to organize Relay for Life. 

"We have all been touched by cancer in some way," she said.

To support the race, even before the first lap is completed, is incredibly simple. Anyone can form or join a team, make a donation, or provide entertainment for participants. Survivors and caregivers can register for the survivor lap and special dinner. 

Simpson encouraged everyone in the community to participate, whether in grand or small gestures. 

"What little I can do to help is something, that is what I want people to know," she said. "They don't have to do much because every little bit helps. Let's make this an event to be proud of for our community."

IF YOU GO ...The third annual Liberty Lake Relay for Life is July 19-20 at the Meadowwood Technology Campus. To form a team or learn more, go to www.relayforlife.org/libertylakewa, or see the ad on page 35 for more information. 

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