Marilyn Halbrook will be leading the 2017 Relay for Life of Clatsop County if not in body 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 8-9, at Astoria High School, Relay For Life of Clatsop County 2017 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 years relay.”
Clatsop County’s Relay For Life was started in 1994 by Parvi’s father-in-law, Kay Bredleau.
“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 six months after Kay died. Kay Bredleau and Kendra Gohl started the very first Relay For Life in Clatsop County in 1994. Kay passed away in 2008. Kendra works at Columbia Memorial Hospital.”
Parvi got involved with Relay 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, with the request at her death the 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 all over to be on board and support the Red Hot Chili Peppers team. “We have people coming from Portland and Salem and Seaside,” Routh said. “We’d like as many of our family members as we can to be part of this.” She said she’s expecting 10 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.”
This year’s relay starts July 8 at 10 a.m., with a celebration at 8:30 p.m., and the luminary at 10 p.m. The day’s events conclude at exactly one minute after midnight. “That marks the the dawn of a new day in the fight against cancer,” Parvi said.
Molly Ficken Brown is the registration and accounting chairwoman for the event. To sign up for a team, reach Brown at 503-440-3497. Laura Parvi can be directly contacted at 503-298-8943. A Facebook page, “Relay For Life of Clatsop County,” offers more details.
Proceeds from the Relay benefit the American Cancer Society. But don’t imagine it’s not locally spent.
“The money comes back to our community for things we need,” Parvi said. For example, she said the new cancer center at Columbia Memorial Hospital is developing an infusion center in part with Relay proceeds.
“Everyone involved with the relay has the same goal,” Parvi said. “To find a cure for cancer.”