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Annual Relay For Life scheduled this weekend

Johansen High School in nearby Modesto will be the site for an American Cancer Society fundraiser this weekend, as teams gather there for the Relay For Life of Greater Stanislaus County. This year’s theme is “To a World with More Birthdays.”

The 24-hour event begins with opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 18 and runs straight through until 9 a.m. Sunday, May 19. With hundreds of participants on dozens of teams taking part, the goal is to raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer.

Teams include several from Stanislaus County as well as others from neighboring counties, including San Joaquin. The ‘greater’ Relay was formed several years ago when previous individual Relays in Modesto, Oakdale and Turlock were combined in to one. The Oakdale event also featured Riverbank and Escalon teams; some residents from those communities now take part in the larger, centrally located Relay.

Following the opening ceremony, cancer survivors take the first lap around the track, as members of the teams circling the track cheer them on.

Throughout the day there are a number of theme laps, musical entertainment, competitions among teams, the popular Ms. Relay contest, as well as food and beverages for sale. Teams also set up booths and offer merchandise of all types, many with raffle baskets, and all proceeds from sales benefit the team’s fundraising total.

Anyone can attend the event; you do not have to be on a team to stop by to support the participants and see the various booths and activities. A luminaria ceremony in the evening honors cancer survivors and recognizes those lost to the disease.

As of May 13, the 2024 Relay For Life of Greater Stanislaus County had topped the $96,000 mark in fundraising.

The 2024 event has two major changes from the past few years: it has moved to Johansen, relocating from John Thurman Field in Modesto; and it is being staged in May, as opposed to the late September-early October date of the past few Relays.

Organizers said the fundraising goal for this year’s event has been set at $175,000 and teams and individuals can continue their fundraising well past the May 18-19 dates, as the Relay year runs through the end of October.

Eighty percent of the revenue raised through Relay For Life events goes toward patient support, research and advocacy.

Relay For Life of Greater Stanislaus County is presented by ConAgra Brands.