Alaskan grit, determination and pride

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Alyeska employees Relay for Life

On June 22, Alyeska employees in Valdez spent hour-long shifts walking around the high school track as they participated in the American Cancer Society’s 24-hour Relay for Life in Valdez. This important event--held around Alaska and the country over the course of several weeks--raises money for cancer research and resources for those recently diagnosed. 

“I think almost everyone knows someone that has been affected by cancer,” said Jenette Vlasoff, an Alyeska employee who organized the company’s Relay for Life team this year. “It’s important that Alyeska is out there in the community showing support for our friends and family members who have been affected by the disease.”

As well as organizing a team of employees to participate in the 24-hour relay, Alyeska supports the Relay financially in both Valdez and Fairbanks and supports cancer research funding and treatment resources in other ways. For instance, Alyeska sponsors a table at the American Cancer Society’s Anchorage Food and Wine festival, a major fundraiser for the non-profit in Alaska.

The company is a long-time sponsor of the Breast Cancer Detection Center in Fairbanks, and contributed funds so BCDC could purchase a new mammogram van, an important resource for Alaskan residents in smaller communities without access to a medical facility.

“Supporting the fight against cancer is a great example of how Alyeska contributes both money and volunteers to important causes,” Valdez Communications Manager Kate Herring said before leaving to walk laps around the track as part of the Valdez Relay for Life team.

Alyeska marks years of military support

Alyeska Pipeline is a longstanding booster of Alaska’s military – from supporting young soldiers new to Alaska, to backing organizations that provide direct services to enlisted personnel, to celebrating its own employees who have spent time in the Armed Services.

This support appears along the pipeline corridor. In Fairbanks, the Doyon Security Folks provided security for the community’s recent STOMP military appreciation parade. In Valdez, where the pipeline ends, Alyeska donates logistical support such as tents, generators and set-up assistance to the military appreciation barbecue. Spill response personnel in Valdez routinely partner with the United States Coast Guard as they train to jointly respond to emergencies.

A popular December event for Alyeska is the annual Military Appreciation Luncheon. It started in 2001 after many members of the local military community had to remain in the Anchorage area through the holidays, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Alyeska leadership thought it would be a nice gesture to host a lunch for those servicemen and women, and the tradition has remained in place since then, said Patti Altom, the Alyeska Administrative Assistant who coordinates the event.

“My feeling on why we do this is we want to support our military and let them know we support them, and we support the service they provide for our country,” Altom said. “It’s a very popular event for our employees too.”

Internally, Alyeska’s veterans are routinely honored around Veteran’s Day. In particular, Pipeline Security Captain Larry Graham and his team have gathered photos of TAPS employees and family members that honor their time in the service.

“Alyeska has always been pro-active in supporting and recognizing special groups and events within the community but I didn't see the same enthusiasm and commitment each November when Veterans Day rolled around,” Graham said, who admits his blood runs army green.  “Being a new guy within the organization, I just assumed that the culture was designed solely to support the challenges of moving oil across Alaska. Then several years ago I was asked to make a Veteran's Day presentation and was totally surprised by the turn-out and interest from within the organization.  Over the years and with the help of many special people, Veteran's Day within Alyeska (especially Fairbanks) has become quite the tradition. It's a day that we as Veterans can share and compare memories of our military services with each other and our fellow workers, a day that we all get a good laugh as we look at pictures of ourselves (in my case many years ago), and a day in which the focus from Alyeska's leadership points directly at our veterans.”

Alyeska rolls out Track & Field Day 2012

For the past seventeen years, Alyeska has sponsored Track and Field Day for hundreds of youngsters in the Interior.  The games began under the leadership of Jesse Owens, an African American who overcame discrimination and other challenges to win four Olympic gold metals.  The games became exclusively an Alyeska event since the Jesse Owens foundation folded many years ago.

Organized in conjunction with the Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks & Recreation Department, the annual games provide a chance for children to try out various distance races, long jumps, softball throws.  This month, on Saturday, June 9, over 350 kids aged seven to twelve descended on the Lathrop High School track for the 17th annual Alyeska Track and Field Day.

“TAPS prides itself on a culture of safety and teamwork,” said Fairbanks Communications and Public Relations Manager Lynda Sather.  “Our hope was that the young athletes competing at Track & Field Day would display these same values on and off the field—and they did!”

Alyeska provided bikes and helmets for first place winner, scooters and helmets for second place, and giant kites for third place.  Every participant received a medal and water bottles filled with healthy treats.

As Sather told participants in this year’s games, you are sure to succeed if you always remember to be safe, to do your best, and to display good sportsmanship.

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