As rainclouds circled most of the horizon, up the hill at Skyview Middle School field the sun shined on those who gathered to join the fight against cancer and honor those fallen to the disease, their caretakers and loved ones and those who continue their battle with cancer. As Relay teams waited to follow the survivors lap, Sterling resident Jen Shoemaker, dressed as a super-hero told the crowd of her families experience when her two-year old daughter Linzi was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a cancer that starts in early forms of nerve cells. Now 4 , Linzi went through significant treatment including chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, radiation, surgery and a technique developed within the last seven or eight years, antibody therapy. “That is something that has come about because of cancer research,” she said. “Linzi’s diagnosis went from 15 percent survival to 50 because of that new therapy,” she said inspiring those gathered to raise funds for cancer research. This was the first year the Shoemakers participated in the local Relay for Life, and said sharing Linzi’s story is their way of giving back to the people who helped with everything from their finances during her treatment to little cards and notes of encouragement. “The community is what was so vital for us and our journey of beating cancer. Being here tonight, it just reminds you how important the community is for beating cancer, it’s huge. It’s the people you do live with.” Linzi happily played in her super-hero outfit as her mother spoke.
28 teams and 186 participants raised $39,404.04 at this year’s Relay according to Johna Beech, event lead for the 2016 Relay for Life. Top fund raisers this year was Camille Sorensen, with the CPH Super Healers bringing in $6,152.00 and the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church team was close with Alyson Stogsdill raising $5,701.90. Team Justice League & Friends, Alana Martin was next with $3,435.69. The main attraction of the shortened Relay format was again the celebrity cream pie toss that saw late comer Sen. Peter Micciche get well plastered thanks to a phone in donation from his colleagues in Juneau. “I should have known better, but I can’t think of a better cause. I’m thrilled to be here literally covered from head to toe with sticky whip cream goo in my eyes ears and all over, thanks to my colleagues in Juneau and friends like Johna who gladly did the throwing on their behalf,” said Micciche. Borough Mayor Mike Navarre was also a popular target, “I didn’t know there was this much whip cream in the entire community. Peter has kids and I got hit with a lot of unfriendly fire that I think was intended for him.”
“A special shout out to Jumpin’ Junction, Paul Wright, Skyview Middle School Drumline, Principal Truesdell & Alex for the use of Skyview, Navarre Family for the survivor dinner, Celebrity Pie Participants: Sen Peter Micciche, KPB Mayor Navarre, Soldotna Mayor Sprague, KPBSD Superintendent Dusek, Soldotna Police Officer Clary, Kenai Fire Marshall Carver, and Travis Burnett for making this 19th Relay a great success,” said Beech.