Temperatures will likely hit the low to mid-80s – if weather forecasters are correct – but those getting ready for the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life on Saturday, April 27 will suit up and show up no matter what the weather.
This year features a combined Relay once again, bringing together Oakdale, Escalon, Riverbank and Waterford teams in the fight against cancer. All will gather on the soccer fields at Oakdale High School for the event, which will run from 9 a.m. to midnight on April 27.
Traditionally a 24-hour event, this is the first time the local Relay will be utilizing the scaled back hours on a trial basis. All in the community are encouraged to attend; you don’t have to be on a team, you can come out at any time during the day or evening hours to support the effort. Many teams will have opportunity drawings, baked goods, special treats, and a variety of items they will be selling, all to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
The Relay For Life is something I have been involved in for years, starting with the second one staged in Oakdale and later on also joining in when Escalon had its own, plus covering Riverbank over the years when that community had one as well.
Now, they have consolidated to offer one event between the Oakdale-Escalon-Riverbank-Waterford communities and are aiming to raise $85,000 in this year’s effort.
There will be entertainment, food, some contests, an evening luminaria ceremony, with a video and the lighted bags circling the track, in honor or memory of those who have battled the disease.
For as many people as are out there on Relay day, there are that many reasons to relay. Names on bags show how many have been touched by this disease and for each name, you know the ripple effect is widely felt. I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t lost a relative or friend to cancer or watched them battle through it. The hope, of course, is that with continued research and new treatments, lives will be extended and, one day, a cure will be found.
That’s why we are out there setting up campsites and raffle basket displays at 6 a.m. Saturday; that’s why we go around to friends and co-workers asking for donations of $5, $10 or more; that’s why we hit the track to walk our laps, whether it’s 65 degrees with a light rain or 85 degrees with a blazing sun.
Over the years, I have seen both. One of Escalon’s earliest events was staged during the month of June and it poured on us almost constantly; we couldn’t even use the track at the high school to walk on because it was a mud pit, we moved the ‘track’ to the grassy infield instead. Riverbank persevered through multiple location changes over the years to still stage their event and Oakdale has also moved around to a number of different spots on the high school campus, finally settling in the last several years on the soccer fields.
Sometimes, you only see fellow Relayers once a year – at Relay. But it is that shared camaraderie, that desire to make a difference that brings us all back.
We really want to see you on Saturday, too – so bring the family and a few dollars and join us in the fight against cancer.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.