Relay for Life event this weekend |

Relay for Life event this weekend

Susan Wood

Knowing someone with cancer trains people to prepare for the unexpected. That’s precisely what happened to many last month when 45-mph wind gusts carried a firestorm through the South Shore community, destroying 254 homes and burning 3,100 acres.

From that point, Relay for Life donations that were once on track in the event’s second year have declined, said chairwoman Denese Dunt, a cancer survivor.

But the gloom and doom hasn’t dampened organizers’ spirits. They want to capture the same energy as in the first event, which raised $117,000, shattering the organization’s $64,000 goal.

Going into the final stretch this year, $73,000 has been earmarked to the American Cancer Society for research and treatment. Still, the outpouring of giving to Angora fire victims and cancer efforts have made Dunt proud to live in the community after 28 years.

Kate Dailey exemplifies Dunt’s pride. Dailey has been involved with the community on two fronts: She lost her Mount Shasta Circle home in the fire, and has decided to continue her fight against cancer to distract her from the ordeal. Dailey’s roommate Niki Zachry is a breast cancer survivor.

“(Tragedy) makes you turn around and try to help others,” Dailey said.

She’s found the togetherness refreshing – even though she’s only lived in Tahoe for seven months.

“I think the giving exemplifies how close the community has become in its time of need. This is why we live here,” Dunt said.

Donation checks and luminary bags were burned in the fire, but Dunt hopes to make up for the loss.

Luminaries are paper bags honoring those who have survived or succumbed to cancer, which affects one out of three people in a lifetime. The luminaries – each holding a candle to be lit at nightfall – will line the Kahle track. Last year, seven luminary bags were dedicated to dogs. Three of them were drawn by people on Dunt’s “Aloha Ohana” team, which is back for a second year among 35 organized groups.

“I never knew they lost a pet,” she said of her friends.

This year, her daughter, Abrie Parrish, 14, has organized her own team named after their 7-year-old golden retriever, Boomer. The teenager created a necklace she plans to wear in honor of the family pet.

“Half my friends knew Boomer,” she said.

Boomer’s death represents her first significant loss, Parrish said.

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