While the major change for this year’s Relay for Life of Penobscot, formerly known as the Old Town Relay for Life, which raises funds for the American Cancer Society, is the change of location from Old Town High School to the University of Maine in Orono, other changes are taking place at this 24-hour event May 20-21.
Included in those changes, along with the more-inclusive name change, according to previously published reports, are increasing the fundraising target to $190,000 after last year’s 82 teams raised $170,000 and including an overall theme which, this year, is “Birthdays.”
Among those looking forward to the changes, especially going from a dirt track at OTHS to paved track at UMaine, are Dolores Foster and fellow members of Judi’s Hope Team who, for about five years, has been the team offering folks the opportunity to have their hair cut to donate to those who have lost their hair to illness or treatment for cancer.
She’s expecting one special little girl to participate this year for a very heartfelt reason, which brings us to an additional change, Dolores told me.
This year, Judi’s Hope will be partnering with a new wig-preparation program, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, a nonprofit organization that she said the team “strongly wants to support” even though its rules are a little more stringent because this organization gives wigs away without any charge.
To donate hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, Dolores said, hair must be 8 inches long; unprocessed, which is not permanently colored, bleached, permed or chemically treated; and cannot be more than 5 percent gray.
Licensed cosmetologist Angie Vaillancourt of Old Town will be doing the cutting, Dolores said.
Anyone who wants to participate just needs to show up, between 9 a.m. and noon, Saturday, May 21, at the UMaine track in Orono, “and we will take them as they come,” Dolores said.
“We’re hoping for good weather and for a good turnout,” she said.
Judi’s Hope Team was established by Jessica Gray of Clifton who wanted to participate in Relay for Life to raise money in honor and memory of her late mother, who also was Dolores’ sister-in-law, “to help fight this battle,” Dolores explained.
Judi Oakman died of melanoma in 1999.
And while Dolores has said of individuals who line up to donate their hair to help others that “we will take them as they come,” Dolores is hopeful that one very special little someone will be among the first in line: 4-year-old Alison Gray who will be having her hair cut to honor the grandmother she never met.
“She has beautiful, long, blond hair,” Dolores told me, “and I think Daddy is not going to be able to watch it being cut. But she and Mommy have talked about it, and Aly wants to do it.”
This is the 12th year for this area’s Relay for Life event and, for five of those years, Judi’s Hope has been part of the fundraising process.
During the year prior to the event, Dolores said, “we go out and try to raise what we can. “We try to get to $5,000 and, with our little team, we get close with bake sales, raffles and yard sales.”
Dolores, who is 49, said she has donated her hair once, and Jessica has had her hair cut for the cause three times.
“I’m older, and I guess my hair doesn’t grow as fast as hers,” she said.
Dolores is looking forward to the change of venue.
“It will be nice because the Old Town track was dirt, and it has rained the last four years.”
The younger members of the team participate fully by camping out for the night but, Dolores admitted, “I kind of cheat on the camping-out experience. I stay until midnight, go home, and come back at 6 a.m.”
Members of Judi’s Hope, a team of family and friends, is looking forward to their new Relay for Life experience at the University of Maine, and they hope you join them there.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.