Cutting it close for cancer research

June 07, 2007|By JULIA COPLEY

HAGERSTOWN - Trish Rowland loves her hair. It's a rich chestnut color, naturally curly and falls past her shoulders.

But she would love even more to shave it off.

Rowland is captain of the Relay For Life team called the Curvettes, a 17-person group in its second year of involvement.

Last year, Rowland started the group six weeks before the event. The first members were eight women with whom she worked out at the Williamsport Curves gym.

The team raised a last-minute $2,400 and had such a positive experience that "it was all we talked about for weeks and weeks," Rowland said.


Their friends and families wanted in on the action, and this year's team is nearly double in size. As captain, Rowland has spurred her team members to greater fundraising efforts by vowing to shave her head if they beat last year's top team total of $18,000 - or if Washington County's Relay raises $100,000 overall.

The Relay For Life began in 1985, according to the American Cancer Society's Web site, when a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, Wash., raised $27,000 for his local American Cancer Society office. Dr. Gordon Klatt decided to circle the track at the University of Puget Sound at Tacoma for 24 hours straight. He asked family and friends to join him for 30-minute jaunts and donate $25 to the cause.

More than 300 did.

The next year, 19 teams took part in what was called the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Relay, and $33,000 was raised to fight cancer. Relay For Life was born.

The event has several different parts, said Keith Grossnickle, volunteer event chairman for Washington County's Relay For Life. To kick off the 13 hours that team members will circle the track, survivors take the first lap around the track in celebration.

The second event is the memorial ceremony, called the Luminaria. This ceremony remembers those who lost the battle against cancer with lighted candles inside paper bags.

"It's one of the most moving things you'll ever see in your life," Grossnickle said.

This year's event will be the 11th in Washington County. The two leading fundraisers, the Curvettes and Harold & Shirley's Team, together have raised more than $10,000.

Their fundraising involves a spirit of playful competition, with each trying to best the other. As of Wednesday, Harold & Shirley's Team had the upper hand, with $6,957.00. The Curvettes weren't far behind with $6,504.25.

Although the head-shaving is contingent on ambitious fundraising goals, Rowland is happily expecting the worst.

"The probability of it coming off is very high," she said.

If so, the razor will be wielded by Danielle Nigh, a three-time cancer survivor whose treatments have left her unable to regrow her hair.

"She's a true inspiration. She's got a great spirit," Rowland said.

If you go

What: Washington County Relay for Life

Where: Hagerstown Fairgrounds, Soccer Field 4

When: Friday, beginning at 7 p.m. The luminaria ceremony is at 9:30 p.m. Closing ceremony is Saturday at 8 a.m.

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