SEASIDE — Marilyn Halbrook will be leading the 2017 Relay for Life of Clatsop County, not in body, but in spirit. As in-memoriam grand marshal at the July 8 event, Halbrook, a former Seaside resident who lost her long battle with cancer in 2016, will be remembered by family with a team in her memory.
“Her family is coming from all over to celebrate and honor Marilyn at this year’s relay,” said Laura Parvi, the event chairwoman.
The opening ceremony pays homage to Halbrook’s fight.
On July 8 and July 9 at Astoria High School, Clatsop County’s event takes place as part of the internationally recognized Relay For Life, the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Relays For Life are staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities in 27 countries. These events bring communities together to remember lost loved ones, honor cancer survivors and raise money for the American Cancer Society.
This year’s theme is “Who is Your Superhero?”
“Your superhero could be your mom you lost to cancer, your dad who is fighting the battle, or maybe your superhero is Batman,” Parvi said. “It doesn’t matter who your superhero is, we want to celebrate them all at this year’s relay.”
Started in 1994
Clatsop County’s Relay For Life was started in 1994 by Parvi’s father-in-law, Kay Bredleau, and Kendra Gohl.
“Kay was part of a prostate cancer support group when he was approached by the American Cancer Society about starting the relay in Clatsop County,” Parvi said. “Kay was passionate about helping others, and as a prostate cancer survivor, he did not want his children or grandchildren to go through what he and his wife, Evelyn, did. At that time, Evelyn was a breast cancer survivor. Evelyn lost her battle in 2008, six months after Kay died.”
Parvi got involved with Relay for Life in 1994. Halbrook, a cancer survivor, joined in 2000.
“We got to know each other,” Parvi said. “ She was so vibrant and outgoing and funny and she always gave her whole heart to the relay.”
Two years ago, Halbrook was at the relay wearing a crown and a purple boa, Parvi recalled. “Last year was the first year she couldn’t participate. She always worked with survivors; even when she was going through chemo, she was always at the meetings and so engaged.”
Halbrook died Dec. 1, after requesting that people give to the relay. Her great niece, Ashtyn Routh, is in charge of a team called Marilyn’s Red Hot Chili Peppers, raising money in her memory.
“We chose that name for our team because Marilyn always made chili for our family on the eve of all our holidays and big events,” Routh said. “Marilyn was our family matriarch. She always took on the big jobs. She didn’t like small-plate things. She liked big plates.”
Routh said Marilyn’s extended family members are coming from Portland, Salem and Seaside to be on board and support the Red Hot Chili Peppers team. “We’d like as many of our family members as we can to be part of this,” Routh said, expecting up to 20 people to be on the Chili Peppers team. “I’m really excited. And it’s awesome how people continue to send donations in Marilyn’s name.”
Parvi is a cancer survivor herself. “Surgery fixed mine,” she said. “I’m a nurse at Columbia Memorial Hospital. I see the effects cancer and chemo and radiation have not just on the person but their entire family.”
The event is signing up teams now. “We’re still getting our committees together and covering all our bases,” Parvi said. “We’re looking for live bands.”