SEASIDE - They circled the track, celebrating the lives of cancer survivors, supporting those fighting cancer, and honoring those lost.

Scores of people participated in and cheered on the 2002 Clatsop County Relay for Life at the Seaside High School athletic fields Saturday and Sunday. Enduring dramatic shifts in weather, from heavy wind gusts and rain downpours to tranquil summer breezes and warm sun, the supporters and survivors continued to circle the track.

Among the walkers and runners was 6-year-old Jamie Howard, who served as grand

BRAD BOLCHUNOS - The Daily Astorian

Astoria resident Charles Yeager, a cancer survivor, walks on the Seaside High School track with his grandson, Reece, straddling his shoulders. Yeager was among the survivors and supporters Saturday participating in the 2002 Clatsop County Relay for Life.marshal by cutting the ribbon and leading the first lap Saturday morning. Howard, a Hammond resident entering first grade this fall at Warrenton Elementary School, was diagnosed with acute lyphoblastic leukemia on Feb. 9, 1999 - when he was only 3.

He endured chemotherapy for three years, finishing his last treatment in April.

The boy was joined by his father, Richard Howard, and his mother, Edie Howard, on stage during opening ceremonies for the relay. His mother tearfully remarked how, thanks to advances in cancer research and treatment, the boy now leads an active, rambunctious life.

Jamie grinned and played with the microphone stand. Miss Oregon Heidi Rickey, who sang "God Bless America," was at his side as he cut the ribbon.

Charles Yeager of Astoria was another participant, walking the track with his grandson, 2-year-old Reece, on his shoulders.

Two-and-a-half-years ago, Yeager was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. He learned about it

Luminaries, lantern candles purchased in remembrance and hope, were lit Saturday night. Glowing golden in the darkness, their light circled the tracks.

WILL KOENIG - The Daily Astorianafter going to a hospital for back surgery, he said.

The Relay for Life event "makes us more aware of what could happen at a moment's notice," Yeager said. Fortunately, a relatively new form of cancer treatment in pill form, known as STI-571, has helped him dramatically.

"There is a lot of new technology out there" helping

Dozens of luminaries spell out "hope" Saturday night at the Seaside High School track. people with cancer and giving new hope, he added. "I'm a perfect example."

Event chairwoman Laura Bredleau thanked all volunteers. "Our community has an abundance of caring, loving people who take time out of their busy schedules to help their neighbors, friends and families win this fight," she added in the event program.

The event has so far raised $30,000, but organizers expect that total to increase as more pledges are returned.

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