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Relay for Life celebrates 10 years on Mercer Island

Last year, Mercer Island High School’s Relay for Life, a fundraiser for cancer research, was the second-highest fundraising high school in the Great West division, raising $50,000 and surpassing high schools in 12 states. The MIHS Relay for Life came in second to the Eastlake Relay for Life. This year, the fundraising goal is $80,000.

Of all the years to get involved with MIHS Relay for Life, this is not the year to miss. Relay for Life, May 16-17, is more than a chance to hang out with friends, stay up all night, or walk, run and play Frisbee alongside the track.

Preparation for the event beings with the 10th anniversary party and event kick-off tonight, March 18, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the MIHS 200 Hall.

The concept of walking around a track for 24 hours in order to raise money for cancer research dates back to one Tacoma doctor, who — recognizing the need for more funds for cancer research — first started Relay for Life in the 1980s. Since then, the American Cancer Society’s annual event has spread to 21 countries and 5,000 communities, with 3.5 million participants annually, raising $4.5 billion for cancer research.

But as much as it has blossomed throughout the world, Relay for Life has its own story on Mercer Island. It was started on the Island when an Island woman lost her mother to colon cancer in the 1990s. Up until about five years ago, Relay for Life was a community event run by adults. Now it is entirely run by students, which allows it to send an even greater message to youth.

Relay for Life 2009 stands out among previous years. This year marks the 10th anniversary on the Island and the 25th anniversary of Relay from its original start in Tacoma.

The focus on raising money captures a great deal of attention, but those involved never forget the purpose behind their hard work; the emotional message of hope for a cure.

For information and to register as a team or individual, go to www.mirelay.org.

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