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12-Hour ACS Relay Success In Riverbank
In the Riverbank High School parking lot there were a few classic cars lined up for participants of Relay to appreciate, brought by the Livin Life Luxurious Central Valley organization. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

For a Saturday Riverbank High School was pretty busy with a car show in the student parking lot, a food court, a jail and more for the 2016 American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Riverbank. This year the event was held for 12 hours – as opposed to the original 24 – and started at 10 a.m. and ended at 10 p.m. and had 11 teams with 73 participants that raised a little under $10,000.

Officials put the final number at $9,636.09.

Due to the commitment the event requires and some logistical issues with overnight participation, Relay organizers were allowed to select a 12 hour, 18 hour, or 24 hour event. Riverbank selected to do 12 hours.

The teams that participated this year were Touched by Cancer, St. Frances of Rome Light of Hope, Mike Blend’s Legacy, Jerry’s Wolf Pack, Riverbank Youth Football and Cheer Kids for a cure, Because of you…we fight together, the WALKamole Crew, Warriors for Juan, and the Estrada’s and Medrano’s Team.

In a message from the Event Lead, Toni Armer, she stated that “each year, our community comes together to help those facing cancer get well, to help those who have yet to be touched by cancer to stay well, to find cures for this dreadful disease and to fight back so, that our children and their children never have to hear the words, you have cancer.”

The opening ceremony began at 10 a.m. which included a welcome message from Mayor Richard O’Brien along with a dove release followed by the Survivor lap.

Upon arrival to the event in the parking lot were a few classic cars on display by Livin Life Luxurious Central Valley group.

Entering the field there was a registration and information booth with Donna Stephens, Community Manager, Relay For Life California Division, American Cancer Society, Inc. on hand to welcome attendees and offer plenty of information.

“They really pulled together here in Riverbank,” noted Stephens. “This year the 12 hour worked well with our 11 teams. The event went well.”

Along with the new 12 hour event instead of the usual 24 hours, the food booths were located on the asphalt upon entrance into the field and booths with items and activities were on the grass area in the center of the track.

“Food court was a hit,” said Stephens. “Our Luminaria ceremony was very nice with Phil McGill (bagpipe) leading our silent lap.

“We were a little low with teams this year … onsite we registered 25 new participants with 13 of these being cancer survivors.”

The food court offered a variety of delectable goods like hot dogs, nachos, tamales with rice and beans, tostadas, pozole, enchiladas, tacos, fresh fruit, juices, and for dessert deep fried Oreos, just to name a few.

Riverbank High School Key Club members manned the St. Frances of Rome booth showing their support for Relay. Another team had a fundraising jail, with people paying a fee to ‘lock up’ friends and then the ‘prisoners’ having to pay to be freed from jail.

The evening festivities included a balloon release and a luminaria ceremony for remembrance.

The event is driven by volunteers which Stephens hopes to see more of next year.

“Luminaria ceremony was really nice,” stated Diana Gonzalez, one of the Relay participants.

“The whole thing was really nice,” she said. “We need to get more community involvement for next year.”