Eric Foltz, 22, made a bet with the residents of Harbor Place at Cottesmore: If they raised more than $500 for Relay for Life, they could take the scissors to his mop of curly hair.
Harbor Place residents stepped up to the plate, surpassing the goal and raising $550 for Relay for Life. That meant the server had to sit down for a new hairdo.
Foltz, who lives in Purdy, thought his curly hair would be safe.
“I put out a number I actually thought they wouldn’t reach,” he said.
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But residents of the assisted living community were determined to get him a fresh haircut — and they reminded him of that while fundraising all the while.
Last Thursday, they got to take turns cutting off locks.
“They were pretty excited to do it,” Foltz said.
The 19th annual Gig Harbor Relay for Life will begin at 6 p.m. June 12 at Peninsula High School and will run for 24 hours. In the past few years, the fundraiser has been hosted at Goodman Middle School, but this year it will come home to its original location at Roy Anderson Field.
The Gig Harbor event has 36 teams and 294 participants signed up so far.
Haircuts are one of the ways teams raise money for cancer research and care through Relay for Life. Other ways include spaghetti feeds, bake sales and restaurant takeovers. The biggest donations tend to come from old-fashioned letter writing, said Stephanie Brandt, community manager for Relay for Life.
At it’s core, Relay for Life is more than just about raising money; it’s also about honoring those who have survived cancer, those who battle cancer and those who lost their battle with the disease.
Relay for Life Gig Harbor opens with a Survivor’s Lap.
“It’s really about them,” Brandt said. “They’re the reason why we all do it and why we’re all there.”
The Survivor’s Lap is one of several components in a relay event. At 10 p.m. there will be the traditional luminaria ceremony with lit-up paper bags decorated in memory of loved ones lost to cancer.
Gig Harbor has a deep connection to Relay for Life. Gordon Klatt, founder of the event, was a Gig Harbor resident. He organized the first run in Tacoma; he circled the track at the University of Puget Sound for 24 hours in 1985.
Klatt died in August 2014 at age 71 after a battle with stomach cancer.
Relay for Life has expanded to include 5,000 relays in more than 20 countries. Gig Harbor is what’s known as a “mega event,” Brandt said, which means it has brought in more than $200,000.
Teams can sign up from now until the day of the event. Each year, the American Cancer Society has a theme for the event. To honor Klatt’s famous inaugural run, the theme for 2015 is “Back to the 80s.”
“We want to really pack the track this year,” Brandt said.