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East County Relay for Life starts Friday

Marsha Hendrick is staying busy these days.

She already doubles as principal and superintendent of little Satsop School, which is in its last week of the school year. And she’s also chairwoman of the East Grays Harbor Relay for Life, which kicks off Friday evening at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds.

Last Friday, she melded the duties, holding a mini Relay for Life for the 60 students at the elementary school.

The students spent two hours in the morning doing laps to earn tickets, which they later used on small outdoor carnival games in which they could win prizes for their efforts.

The students combined to do 862 laps that day for a total of 129.3 miles on their smallish legs.

But that wasn’t the “topper” on the day.

At the end of the event, the students each had the chance to pay “$1 per squirt” to cover their principal with ketchup and mustard.

This is the seventh year of Satsop School’s mini relay and the seventh year students have been able to make a mess of Hendrick in one way or another. That idea for that came from Mary Wolfe, a para-educator at the school who also happens to be related to the boss.

“All the kids want to do something to the head teacher — the principal,” said Wolfe, ” and I do it because she’s my sister,” she added with a sly grin.

The squirts squirted Hendrick enough to raise $89 that day, all of which will go to the East County Relay, which is hoping to raise $66,000 this year after raising $53,000 last year.

Relay for Life of East Grays Harbor started off as a spin-off from its larger, older neighbor — Relay for Life of Grays Harbor, which takes place in Hoquiam.

But in recent years, the Elma event has taken on a life of its own. Event planners decided to completely split the two relays, arguing that the smaller event had enough traction to go it alone. In previous years, the two events had been held on the same weekend in two different locations.

“We decided that it was about time that we foster our own Relay community,” said Hendrick.

Event planners also hoped the split would garner more participants for both events. With the events held on two different weekends, citizens could show up and walk in both Hoquiam and Elma.

So far, 20 teams and 146 participants have collected $10,280 — about 15 percent of the East County fundraising goal.

This weekend’s event begins at 6 p.m. Friday with the opening ceremonies and “Survivor Lap.” Luminaries will be lighted at 10 p.m. and at midnight, one male relayer from each team will vie for the coveted title of “Mr. Relay” in something of a twisted beauty/fundraising pageant.

Saturday will be highlighted by a kids’ parade of decorated red wagons at 10:30 a.m., followed by a youth talent show at 11 a.m. Closing ceremonies will be at 4 p.m.