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City’s Relay For Life gets rolling Saturday

Marilyn Hash has been a fixture around the Enumclaw Relay For Life for years. -      File photo
Marilyn Hash has been a fixture around the Enumclaw Relay For Life for years.
— image credit: File photo

Veteran walker Hash among organization’s “Heroes of Hope”

It was 2001 and Marilyn Hash had started her first round of chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she spied an article in The Courier-Herald about Enumclaw’s American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

“I showed up and walked in the Survivors’ Lap and it absolutely blew me away,” she said. She remembers that one lap, that first year, as being sparsely attended by teams and survivors, but its impact was huge. “It was the response that you get – the support.”

Hash was hooked. She and her daughters have put together a team every year since. She’s been part of the organizing, part of the promotion and been instrumental in recruitment of teams, sponsors and survivors.

Now, the American Cancer Society is tapping into Hash’s spirit and enthusiasm for the cause. Relay For Life named Hash one of its 2009 Heroes of Hope. She is one of two people who will represent western Washington and one of 13 who were named in the Great West Division, which includes states in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and Southwest regions.

No one was more surprised by the honor than Hash.

“I’m a great worker,” the retired Enumclaw School District teacher said. “It’s a great honor. What I do I do out of love. It took me way off guard.

“I’m just so thrilled for everybody. Our group has worked so hard to get the relay where it is at; it’s more than one person.”

“She’s a shining star,” said Enumclaw Relay For Life chairman Gretchen Waller. “She’s just the example of what it’s all about. She just does it all.

“It’s a pretty big deal. We’re excited.”

Even another round of chemotherapy and radiation, her sixth, isn’t going to keep Hash from attending Saturday and Sunday’s Relay For Life. She and her team will join 38 other teams and 457 participants walking the track at J.J. Smith Elementary School to raise awareness about cancer, honor those who have survived the disease, pay tribute to those who did not and raise money to support research to help find a cure. So far, Enumclaw has raised more than $64,000.

Just like all the other years, Hash will walk with the survivors during opening ceremonies at noon Saturday and stay until the last tent is packed away Sunday morning. She’ll laugh with friends. She may shed a tear during the lighting of the luminaries. She may limbo to the “Luau for Life” theme. She’ll make new memories and she will practice what she’ll be doing as a Relay For Life Hero of Hope – sharing her story and telling others how she has benefitted from the services and programs of the American Cancer Society.

To comment on this story view it online at www.courierherald.com. Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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