Drollinger connecting people for the Relay for Life

J.D. Drollinger

J.D. Drollinger

J.D. Drollinger is the event chair of the Relay for Life in Auburn, one of the American Cancer Society’s main fundraisers. Events start at 6 p.m. Friday,

May 16, and end at noon Saturday, May 17, at Auburn High School Memorial Stadium.

Q. So you raise all this money, where does it go?

A. The money goes to the American Cancer Society. The first thing it is used for is research. This past year in the Puget Sound area they gave away $5.8 million to 10 or 13 researchers who put in grants to do work on all different aspects of cancer, from cancer prevention cancer care to treatment. The other portion is services like “The Road to Recovery.” That means if you are a cancer patient and you need to go to and from the doctor’s office or go to and from treatments and you don’t have any family or friends who can take you, you can contact the American Cancer Society and they will provide the transportation.

There’s the Hope Lodge, which offers an extended stay at one of the cancer treatment facilities. If your family is with you, they can stay at a reduced or free rate at one of the Hope Lodges.

The American Cancer Society has wigs for people who lose their hair. They have a lot of the support groups for the men and the women for the various types of cancer. There are many other types of programs, and while they are all funded through donations, it’s mostly through Relay for Life.

Q. So, how is this year shaping up?

A. We have 49 teams and just over 400 people registered right now. So far, we have raised more than $40,000 with 17 days to go. Our goal is $130,000. Last year we found out we had raised $116,000 after we closed the books at the

end of August.

Q. Tell us about some of the unsung heroes behind this event.

A. We have a real young committee this year with a lot of high school students on it. They are helping to put a lot

of things together. Our entertainment and activities chairs are two high school girls and we have a youth involvement chair, also a high school girl. They came to me and asked

to be a part of it. All three of them go to Auburn High, but they have friends in other schools. They all are going to town, having a blast.

Q. Anything different?

A. We took some of the comments from last year that said our closing ceremonies could use a bit of oomph. This year’s theme is “There is no place like Hope,” which of course is a takeoff on “The Wizard of Oz.” And so during the closing ceremonies, weather permitting, Go Lightly Balloons, an Auburn company, is going to set up one of their hot air balloons in the middle of the field. They can’t take off because it’s the middle of the day and the air pressure isn’t quite right, but they can do a static race where they are tethered. And so they are going to do a couple of those like in the Wizard of Oz when the wizard is leaving. This is all weather permitting, of course.

Since we are taking off the Wizard of Oz, we are going to have a yellow brick road. The bricks will be on a poster. As the banner goes around the track, you’ll be able to sign it with what your story is. It will be set up along the fence line so people can sign it with Sharpies.

Another neat thing we are going to do is give away the team awards at the closing ceremonies. We are going to have the teams vote on those awards like “last tent standing,” or “the best campsite.” Deals like that. Teams vote on those throughout the night.

Another thing is most laps walked by a team. As teams go past a particular spot, they will take a bead out of a barrel or so and take it back to their tent. And each hour we will tally them up and keep track of how many laps each team has walked.

Another thing is we will line the track with quarters. Somebody figured out on a quarter-mile track, if you line it with quarters all the way around, that’s $4,000 quarters or $1,000 right there.

In addition, the Seafair Pirates are going to make an appearance.