Mo & Terry Smedley


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2007 Grays Harbor Relays for Life


Relays for Life in Grays Harbor were held the weekend of June 2.  And again this year, the amount raised - a whopping $511,000 for both the Hoquiam and East County events - beat all previous records and expectations.  I'll repeat here what I said about last year's event, and what it says about the Grays Harbor Community:

"While we're a "small" community, in some ways people who live here are part of a much larger community than those who live in typical urban areas.  You can't pick up the paper in Grays Harbor and not recognize many of the individuals mentioned.  When cancer strikes our newspaper editor or shopping mall manager, we know who those people are.    I think that makes you feel much more part of the broad community compared to being an anonymous member of a huge, urban group.  That sense of community makes the people of Grays Harbor incredibly generous.   Make no mistake about it - Grays Harbor is in tough economic shape.   Un- and under-employment is very high.  Family wage jobs in resource-dependent industries like timber and fisheries are disappearing rapidly.  But still this community responds whenever there's an unmet need, whether that be the Relay for Life, or funding a new emergency room for the hospital, or building a new YMCA facility.   If you're stuck in the quagmire of urban living - give small town America a try.  It has a lot to offer."

This year, Mo's sister Kathy drove down to join in the Relay.

Mo gives the high sign as she completes another lap under the Grays Harbor Relay for Life banner. Opening ceremonies include a "survivor's lap", which is always a moving sight.  The man in the center of this photo (with the hat) is Steve Sypher, an ex-City of Hoquiam employee who is currently fighting esophageal cancer. Lots of survivors make the first lap. The first few hours of the event on Friday night feel like a big community party, with hundreds of walkers and supporters joining together at the track.
Mo, Kathy, and Diane Johnson (wife of City Attorney Steve Johnson) are working on the City of Hoquiam raffle table. The Relay for Life is "big tent" politics.  The City's tent is right up front because they provide the first aid and paramedics for the event. Mo and Kathy round the track as the sun goes down on Friday. The Memorial Wall lists the names of those who lost their battle with cancer.  This is a small enough community that you can recognize many of the names on the wall.  It's not uncommon to see people mourning here as they read the names of loved ones lost to the disease.
The luminaries are set out early in the day in preparation for tonight's lighting ceremony. She asked me to take her picture, so I did.  Her T-shirt says she attended last year's (Aberdeen) Bobcat Cheer Camp - she seems well qualified for the job! Her friend wanted in on the action, too.  She wanted to know if her picture would appear in the paper. Kathy is checking out the silent auction tent for bargains.
A carpentry class at Grays Harbor Community College created several impressive dog houses for the silent auction.  This one sports a tile floor, chimney, and windows! Within the next week, Grays Harbor will at last get its own radiation treatment center.  That's a very exciting proposition for the community, as currently all patients requiring post-surgical radiation treatment have to make the 100-mile round trip to Olympia every day. As dusk settles in, most teams enjoy their warming fires. The walkers soldier on into the night, under temporary construction lights setup at either end of the track
Mo grabs a drink just before the luminary ceremony begins at 10PM. Kathy was enlisted as the official lighter of the ten luminaries we put out this year. At ten o'clock sharp, the luminaries are lit while the participants remain silent and still. Mo and Kathy's Tante Rose Wetmore (en Francais).
My Uncle Clifford Henry Smedley, who lost his battle with cancer this year. My sister Pamela Olsen, an eight-year survivor this year. My Aunt Nita Ottoson, who has recently finished chemo and radiation treatments for cancer with a good prognosis. Pearl Hopkins, good friend of Kathy's, who died from cancer several years ago.
Mildred D'Almeida, mother of Mo's good friend Patty. Mo and Kathy's Uncle Paul Lauzier. Dear Old Dad, John Kenneth McGuire. Mo's dear friend Sandy Thomas, who is currently fighting cancer.
Our good friend Gloria Stormes. Walkers on the field resume their march after the luminaries are lit. Most teams create luminary displays on the track across from their tents.  This one spells out City of Hoquiam. Once the lighters leave the stands, the luminaries clearly spell out their message.
Saturday's walkers enjoy plenty of sunshine! Mo walking her time slot just before closing ceremonies on Saturday. Many teams hold raffles to raise money for the event.  An exceptionally popular raffle this year was this ~1928 Ford being raffled off by a local restaurant (Duffy's).  We didn't win it. Mo and Kathy in the Saturday sunshine.
  Mo walks the track with councilman Byron Hyde, who is a cancer survivor. There are a few displays of interesting Pop Art around the track.