Relay for Life of Whatcom County kicks off Friday evening


BELLINGHAM - Cancer survivors will set off at 6:15 p.m. for the first lap of Relay for Life of Whatcom County as participants cheer them on from the sidelines on Friday, July 11.

A year of fundraising by 990 participants and 84 teams has seen more than $172,000 raised for this year's relay. According to Billie Rinn, event chair, this year's event is ahead of last year's in both money raised and individuals involved.

"It's a great culmination to the end of the fundraising season," Rinn said.

Only cancer survivors will partake in the first lap of the relay, which starts on the corner of Lottie Street and Grand Avenue outside of the Bellingham Public Library. After the first lap, all other participants may join in running the relay route, which follows the block that encircles the library.

Following the survivor's lap, the public can purchase a $10 ticket for a barbecue salmon dinner. All of the food for the dinner was donated by relay participants, event sponsors and local businesses.

A silent auction in the main entrance of Bellingham City Hall will start Friday night and continue into the early morning hours of Saturday. Items up for auction include wine baskets, gift certificates and an autographed baseball from Willie Bloomquist of the Seattle Mariners.

All of the proceeds raised by the silent auction, the dinner and the fundraising efforts of the participants goes to the American Cancer Society.

As daylight disappears, participants will light candles in remembrance of loved ones lost, in support of those currently fighting cancer and to celebrate those who have fought cancer in the past.

Signature white luminaria bags will be available at the relay with a suggested $5 donation. They also can be ordered online from the Relay for Life of Whatcom County's website.

The Fight Back Ceremony at 11 a.m. will feature Dr. Ian Thompson, oncologist at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Cancer Center, as he shares information on early cancer detection and new lung cancer screenings available in Bellingham.

The two-day event finishes with a closing ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The Relay for Life of Whatcom County has put on this event for more than 25 years.

Those wishing to get involved in Relay for Life of Whatcom County can contact local American Cancer Society at 425-322-1100 or go to


Public Works will close several streets surrounding the Bellingham Public Library for the Relay for Life of Whatcom County on Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12.

Those roads will include Grand Avenue between Gerard Street and Flora Street, Central Avenue between Prospect Street and Flora, North Commercial Street between Flora and Whatcom Creek, and all of Lottie Street. Closures begin Friday afternoon and run until Saturday afternoon.

The library will be open regular hours. Parking is available at the corner of Prospect Street and Central Avenue. Disabled parking will be at the corner of Central Avenue and North Commercial Street.

Reach Matthew Thompson at 360-715-2249 or

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