Linda Mentzel was determined to be there for her mom – in celebration.
Mentzel, of Arlington, Texas, arrived in Kent last week to share the joy of Sally Creamer’s 80th birthday, then joined her mom in a special cancer survivor lap around French Field’s quarter-mile track, the ceremonial start to the annual Kent Relay For Life.
The benefit raises awareness and money for the American Cancer Society.
Creamer, who says she has beaten cancer three times, vows to beat it again. Such events, like the large Kent gathering last Friday – one of the most successful fundraising relays in King County – remains very close to her heart.
“It’s so important,” said Creamer, a retired schoolteacher. “I just love to live. I like life. It’s worth fighting for.
“When I was first diagnosed (with cancer) the doctor gave me six months,” Creamer said. “It’s now been 8½ years.”
The Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives communities throughout the country a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease by raising money.
Relay teams camped out at French Field and took turns walking or running around the track.
At the start of the relay Friday evening, between $115,000 and $120,000 was raised for the cause. As of midweek, 883 participants and 72 teams had raised $174,117. Organizers had hoped to reach $200,000 when all the donations trickled in.
The relay’s corporate sponsors included the Kent School District, Seattle Thunderbirds Community Sports Foundation, Heritage Bank, and Valley Orthopedic Associates.
Malinda Pauk, left, and Connie Hill, of Kent’s Stafford Suites, take in the festivities. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter