The theme of the 2017 Clatsop County Relay for Life asked a very simple question: “Who is your superhero?”
“I know that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” event chairwoman Laura Parvi said during her opening remarks of Saturday’s event at the Astoria High School track.
Parvi, whose husband was diagnosed with lung cancer this year, pointed to the numerous people in the crowd wearing purple survivor T-shirts as her heroes.
Guest speaker Dr. Jennifer Lycette, an oncologist and medical director of the new Columbia Memorial Hospital/Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Care Center, reiterated the same sentiments.
“I get to work with real life superheroes every day,” she said. “My patients inspire me every day with their own strength and perseverance. In fact, I’m in awe of them. For those of you out there in treatment or have finished your treatment, you are my heroes.”
Walking for a cause
The Relay for Life, which ran from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, boasted 22 teams and around 400 participants throughout the day, according to Parvi. And before a single lap was walked, it was announced that the event had already raised more than $29,000.
After introducing a contingent of local pageant winners, including Miss Clatsop County 2017 Hannah Garhofer and Miss North Coast 2017 Nicole Ramsdell, Parvi asked, “Now you might be wondering why we are bringing our pageant people here.”
The answer was to honor their grand marshal, Marilyn Halbrook, who died in December from cancer. Halbrook, who worked with Relay for Life for much of the last two decades, was also involved in the Miss Oregon Scholarship Program for many years. Parvi noted that the date of the local relay was even changed at one point so it wouldn’t compete with the pageant for Halbrook’s sake. Before beginning the opening survivor lap, a recording of a song by 2007 Miss Oregon Kari Virding and 2002 Miss America Katie Harding, performed at this year’s Miss Oregon pageant in honor of Halbrook, was played.
Lynette also took the opportunity to talk about the new Cancer Care Center, noting that when she first spoke at the Clatsop event four years ago, it was still in the conceptual stage. The center is now set to open in October.
“This new facility is something our whole community can truly be proud of,” she said. “Not only will we be able to expand our current medical oncology, but we are adding radiation oncology services. No longer will people have to travel one or more hours away for radiation treatment.”
She also reminded the crowd, by way of poet Ralph Waldo Emerson that, “A hero is no braver than an ordinary man (or woman), but he (or she) is brave for five minutes longer.”