The annual Relay for Life event in Eatonville, which will be held again this Saturday and Sunday at the track and football field at Eatonville High School, has raised $617,000-plus over the years for the American Cancer Society. Lori Smith of First Citizens bank started the first Relay for Life in Eatonville in 2002. This is her story of how it started:
“I have been in banking for over 20 years and really enjoy doing any volunteer work that I can. I would always sign up for fund-raisers, walks, committees etc. One year I was asked if I wanted to volunteer to walk with a Relay for Life team in Thurston County. Of course, the time slots were always about 2 or 3 in the morning, so I would drive hours to Relay. When I went to my first event, I was overwhelmed by the commitment, drive and enthusiasm of everyone there. It was so fun, exciting, and filled with hope for a better tomorrow.
“My aunt, Felicity Morris, was diagnosed with cancer and passed away after a two-year struggle. This hit home with me as I watched my young cousins go through the pain of losing their mother. I thought, why can’t we have a Relay event here in Eatonville? We have a beautiful track at the high school and could raise even more money for American Cancer Society (ACS).
“So, I spoke with a chairperson for Thurston County who put me in contact with ACS. They were very excited to have a new relay. The first Eatonville Relay raised $31,000, and the second year was even bigger. The ACS was very impressed with our small town, big hearts.
“To date, Eatonville has raised $617,015. This couldn’t have been done without the help of the entire committee, a huge part of that being my co-chair, Liz Triggs.
“Since relay, I had an aunt diagnosed with breast cancer, a brother diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and many friends that struggled with cancer, including Liz. I pray one day a cure will finally happen. Cancer is a horrible disease that affects so many.”