Relay for Life organizers in Maple Valley, Covington kick off planning for bigger 2013 event

Relay for Life participants hula hoop during the event in June at Kentwood High. Organizers hope to get more youth involved in the event in 2013.  - Courtesy photo
Relay for Life participants hula hoop during the event in June at Kentwood High. Organizers hope to get more youth involved in the event in 2013.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Though the next Covington-Maple Valley-Black Diamond Relay for Life is more than six months away it’s never too early to get ready.

Lacy Parker and Janet Swisher, co-chairs for the second year, are doing just that with a kick off event set for Monday, Dec. 3 at Covington MultiCare.

“We’re starting much earlier this year,” Parker said. “We’re already getting a head start.”

For Swisher, who responded to questions via email, getting started now is crucial.

“It’s important to get 2013 Relay planning started early so we can build up the size and momentum of our planning committees, brainstorm about ways to improve on the previous year’s Relay, and to find more ways to become more visible to our communities throughout the year,” Swisher wrote. “Our three city Relay has been in existence in our communities for the last 13 years and there are still a lot of people who don’t know what Relay is or that we are here.  When you consider that 1 in every 100 Americans participates in a local Relay, it means that we still have 99 out of every 100 residents in our towns to reach.”

At the kick off, teams can register at a reduced rate. In fact, at the Relay in June at Kentwood High, 26 teams registered for the 2013 event to take advantage of the opportunity to sign up for free.

In 2011, Parker noted, a total of 26 teams participated. To have 28 signed up already is exciting. Especially given that’s half of the number of teams that participated in the event in June — there were a total of 449 participants in the Relay which began on a Friday night in early June and went until early the next afternoon.

Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. There are hundreds of local Relays around the country and Western Washington. It began, in fact, years ago in Tacoma.

With the tremendous growth the event organizers experienced hosting it at Kentwood — previously it had been in July at Tahoma Junior High — Parker said they have loftier goals for the 2013 Relay.

“We’re super excited to see what we can do this year,” Parker said. “Just talking with past teams, they’re saying, ‘We’ve already started fundraising.’ Last year it was a struggle to get teams started. Everybody is starting earlier which means more funds can come in.”

Swisher wrote that one thing she and Parker, as well as the other volunteers, learned about planning a Relay means they need to be comfortable getting creative.

“Changing things up can really have an impact,” Swisher wrote. “We had some reservations last year about making so many changes to our event — location, date, etc. — all in one year, but that type of thinking is really what helps us take our event to the next level. We had so much great feedback from our participants about the changes that we made.”

In addition to providing information about the event and signing teams up, Parker said, the kickoff will allow the organizing committee to demonstrate its theme which is Glamp Out 2013: Making Hope Happen.

“We’re going to have Cancer Action Network information and all the different programs the American Cancer Society has that are basically sponsored by the money raised by all the Relays,” Parker said. “It’s amazing to see, because they break it down in King County, where the dollars raised go. We’re going to go over great fundraising strategies and go over the process of the different ways people can do fundraising.”

Parker said they will need more volunteers. They could use more members on the committee and there are tasks which require varying levels of involvement.

With the exceptional results of the 2012 event, Swisher said, they’ve realized what comes with that success.

“The success of our 2012 event made us realize that we need more manpower to help us with our goals of continued growth,” Swisher wrote. “It’s that old adage: Be careful what you wish for because you may get it! Our biggest wish was to grow the size of our Relay, which we have done consistently for the last several years. Growth translates into more sponsors, teams, and participants, more funds raised for the American Cancer Society and certainly more fun for all at the event itself. But that also means that there are a lot more logistical issues to deal with and more volunteers are needed to achieve those goals, which will ultimately result in us putting on a quality event on June 1.”


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