Jim Schweigart suffered a heart attack on Father's Day in 2006. A little over eight months later he died. However, it wasn't his heart but cancer that took his life.

The long-time Pendleton police officer was nicknamed Officer Friendly - an ironic moniker because of his rough exterior. However, it was Schweigart who inspired Karen Malcolm to start a Relay for Life team.

"We call ourselves the six-ones," Malcolm said referring to Schweigart's radio number.

For the second year in a row, Malcolm is chair for the American Cancer Society fundraising event in Pendleton.

Malcolm said the event does more than raise money.

"It helps bring communities together," she said. "They can share their experience and hopefully inspire everyone."

Schweigart's daughter, Lisa, who's this year's event ambassador, agreed.

"It think it's also a celebration of survivors. There's so many tragic stories, but there's also good stories," she said.

Schweigart counts her mother, Donna, as one of the reasons to celebrate. She's a breast cancer survivor.

Schweigart said medical professionals never gave a definitive diagnosis of the type of cancer her father had. Because of that, she's a firm believer in the need for continued funding for the American Cancer Society.

"I think it's great that they support research because we need more of that," she said.

Participating in Relay for Life is a family affair for Schweigart. Her son, Tony, won a past Mr. Relay contest. Dressing up like a woman, the then-14-year-old shook his bootie and collected a bounty to garner the title and help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

Lisa Schweigart said her son used to jokingly call his grandfather Tinkerbell, and now to honor him he goes by that alias when dressing up for the contest.

Carole Guenther and Karen Allen, co-chairs for the survivor committee, have contacted more than 200 local cancer survivors - inviting them to participate in the event.

Both women also are cancer survivors.

"I am indeed blessed and hope I can encourage others who are dealing with the disease," Guenther said.

Malcolm said participating in the event affords her the opportunity to talk about Schweigart and share stories with his family.

"I get out there and think about the things he did ... . It brings a lot of fond memories," she said.

Guenther said 73 survivors participated in last year's event.

"It is inspiring to see them come together and support one another ... the camaraderie that develops as the group becomes acquainted is very uplifting," she said.

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