Relay For Life lights track Saturday

A portion of the Relay For Life Team “Wendy’s Walkers” gathers for a photo at Woodward Middle School. The 18-hour relay, which raises money, and awareness for cancer research, starts Saturday. -
A portion of the Relay For Life Team “Wendy’s Walkers” gathers for a photo at Woodward Middle School. The 18-hour relay, which raises money, and awareness for cancer research, starts Saturday.
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t Third-annual event honors cancer victims on Bainbridge.

Each team has a story.

In Saturday’s American Cancer Society Relay For Life they will walk for family members and friends; survivors, fighters, and those who have fallen to cancer.

Laurie Isenman’s team is walking for Wendy.

An island mother of two, and close friend of Isenman’s, Wendy Thomas died from breast cancer in May 2007.

Isenman’s son Parker is best friend’s with Wendy’s son Reilly, and recalls the frustration and helplessness she felt in Wendy’s final days.

Her first reaction was anger, she said, but she soon channeled her emotion in more productive ways.

Those who knew Wendy’s family were casting about for a way of commemorating her life.

“That’s kind of what brought us to the relay,” Isenman said. “A lot of teachers and friends came to me asking what we could do to remember her. Should we plant a tree, or put up a bench? Then one teacher thought of Relay for Life.”

Isenman hurriedly assembled a team for the July event. It was a way of remembering Wendy while sharing her story.

“It made me want to help make people more aware that there are lots of people on Bainbridge whose lives are touched by cancer,” Isenman said.

Wendy’s Walkers are back again for the 2008 relay, this time with 23 members.

As of Tuesday, 19 teams and 198 participants were signed up for the event and had already raised $24,170. Walkers can sign up through the rest of the week.

This is the third year for Relay For Life on Bainbridge. Last July, more than 30 teams and 300 walkers rounded the Bainbridge High School Track, raising roughly $104,000.

Relay organizer Terri Segadelli said fundraising seems to be down this year, something she blames on the slow economy. But teams will continue accepting donations online until Aug. 1.

This year the relay will be held at Woodward Middle School due to construction at Memorial Stadium.

The event gets rolling at 4 p.m. Saturday with opening ceremonies and a speech by Mayor Darlene Kordonowy.

Cancer survivors lead off the relay with an opening lap, and are joined midway by their caregivers and loved ones. Then for the following 18 hours, each team keeps at least one member on the track, walking through the night.

Food stands will be fueling the walkers and catering to visitors, with all proceeds benefiting Relay for Life.

Several bands will be on hand with live music and Bainbridge Rope Skippers will put on a show. Individual teams host fundraisers at the relay.

At 10 p.m. attendees line the track with decorated bags, lit from within by a candle. Each luminary honors someone fighting cancer or remembers someone who has died from the disease.

“It is a very moving ceremony,” Segadelli said.

As the night wears, walkers participate in zany theme laps, including a “scrabble lap,” “bingo lap” and “pajama lap,” to leaven the mood and keep their legs moving.

At 7 a.m., the Bainbridge Fire Department and EMTs fire up grills for a pancake breakfast, as the relay enters its final push to 10 a.m.

Even if they haven’t joined a team, Segadelli said individuals are encouraged to come by the track and lend their support.

“People are welcome to stop by at any time during the event and walk a few laps,” Segadelli said.

Sara Tifft will be one member putting in laps for Wendy’s Walkers.

In August Tifft’s sister Susan was diagnosed with stage four uterine cancer. Tifft said there was no history of cancer in her family and the diagnosis was a shock.

But Susan’s treatment was hugely successful and her cancer is now undetectable, Tifft said.

“It has been a huge deal to see what she has had to go through, and how she has really miraculously responded to treatment,” she said.

Her sister’s experience inspired Tifft to dive headlong into fundraising.

She had set a goal of fielding $1,500 dollars through Relay for Life, but with a torrent of support from her sister’s friends and their family, she now leads relay fundraisers with $2,550.

Tifft said she wants to support those who can’t afford the lifesaving treatment her sister received.

“I think that is something worth putting money into,” she said.


It’s not too late to join an American Cancer Society Relay for Life team or donate to the cause. Contact Terri Segadelli at 842-8633 or for more information. This year’s event is at Woodward Middle School on Sportsman Club Road. The relay begins 4 p.m. Saturday and runs through 10 a.m. Sunday. For more information see the relay Web site, with a wealth of information.

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