If it was a ‘normal’ year, the soccer fields at Oakdale High School would be buzzing with activity this coming weekend.
Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3 were the dates set for this year’s edition of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life; a 24-hour team fundraising event to benefit cancer patients through treatment, research and advocacy.
But with the continuing social distancing and shelter in place directives as a result of the coronavirus, the Relay For Life of Oakdale-Escalon-Riverbank-Waterford won’t be taking place this weekend. Organizers are currently trying to determine a future date to have the event.
“Our organization is experiencing a profound and devastating impact due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Relay For Life is the backbone of the American Cancer Society, and the multimillion dollar shortfall as a result of so many events being cancelled or postponed, has greatly impacted the Society,” said local Community Development Manager Benazir Ali, the ‘staff partner’ for the local event.
She went on to add that “All community in-person Relay events are now suspended until the end of June” which will push out any future Relay for this area until July at the earliest.
Teams already in place for the local Relay are being encouraged to continue fundraising, Ali said, “as we strive to fund the mission above all else at this time.”
For local Relay For Life participants – those on a team for the originally scheduled May 2 and 3 event – they are also asked to join a Facebook LIVE virtual meeting on Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m.
This meeting is being hosted to provide a venue for participants to ask questions and be updated on possible future plans for the local event.
“Please be sure to follow our Facebook page called “Relay For Life of Oakdale/Escalon/Riverbank/Waterford” and turn on notifications for this page as well,” said Ali.
Meanwhile, with ‘Relay Season’ gearing up nationwide, a ‘virtual Relay’ was hosted online Saturday, April 25. The more than 90-minute gathering drew in participants from across the country and featured a number of live interviews, music, and a ‘survivor lap’ that was led by a cancer survivor, walking around her home while talking with the event host, Desiree Berenguer Carton of the American Cancer Society.
“Cancer doesn’t stop and neither will we,” Carton reiterated throughout the event, noting that people are still being diagnosed, people still need rides to treatment, people still need access to information.
She pointed out that “cancer doesn’t care” about the coronavirus and urged Relay participants to be ready to attend their actual events when it is deemed safe to do so.
As with traditional Relay For Life events, survivors and caregivers were highlighted during the virtual event and several survivors were among the special guests, along with ACS officials providing updates on research, treatments and the ongoing CPS-3, Cancer Prevention Study.