ay for Life fundraiser Tuesday June 16 2015 11 Relay for Life empowering says leader Shari Olsen By DON JAQUE Shari Olsen started organizing this years Fort Smith Relay for Life cancer fundraiser event over six months ago the same as she does each year since she got involved in or- ganizing the biannual event in 2006. Olsen draws inspiration to dedicate her time to the event from her mothers five- year battle with lymphoma which was fi- nally lost with her passing in 1997. That was my first direct connection to cancer. Within five years after she passed away my dads sister and then my moms brother died she said. But its everywhere. It seems more and more common these days. We are all involved. Olsen said along with every individuals battle with cancer comes the supporting fight of the caregivers around them and that is never easy often leaving lingering doubts and concerns. She said in her case she was away at school and could not be with her mother to support her during some of the difficult times and that still troubles her today. I was not able to be the caregiver she needed. Olsen said stories like hers are why the Relay for Life puts such a special emphasis on supporting caregivers. The main focus is on cancer survivors and the inspiration they give to others but next after that is recognition of caregivers and the critical role they play. The first honorary lap of the Relay walk is the survivor lap. The Caregiver lap was HEALTH WELLNESS CANCER added and so they come next. They need to be celebrated too. Olsen said for her and others in the com- munity the Relay for Life is empowering. It brings the community together with a common purpose she said. We know we can make a difference. In addition to recognizing those who are in the ght against cancer the Relay is about earning money to support the ght. Its always exciting to see the numbers. Our goal is 150000 this year. I always like to aim high. That approach to setting lofty goals has paid off again this year. The money is still coming in but it looks like the past record of 153000 has been smashed. Pledged money will come in until the end of July but at this point it looks like Fort Smith may have chalked up a new record in 2015 - 153484 and counting. Olsen said her personal goal is 5000 each year and this year she made it to 4240 the fourth highest individual total for Fort Smith. To earn that she said she picked up garbage sold chocolate bars and mostly just asked people for money much of that through e-mails. Throughout the relay event last Sat- urday night Olsen was the main orches- trator the head of the volunteer team en- suring everything came off well. Upbeat and purposeful in her several presen- tations the message of coming together in the cause was often repeated Cancer affects everybody. We have to fight it. It can be beaten. PhotoDonJaque PhotosDonJaque The classy Kamis Krew team made up for their small size with their avid participation in the events held during 12 hours of walking the Queen Elizabeth Campground track. effort their mother aunt grandmother greatgrandmother and friend elder Irene Sander- Shari Olsen committee chair of the Fort Smith Relay for Life fundraiser and a member of the Hobo team shares a lap around the track with cancer survivor Ronnie Coleman. heir rabbit ears once again this year to walk for the cure.