OAKHURST – Our local Eastern Madera County Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society returns to Yosemite High School this year and it’s shaping up to be a great event.
The popular annual 24 hour fundraiser is set for this Saturday, May 17, for the first time on the contemporary YHS track.
Survivor registration opens at 7 a.m. and Opening Ceremonies start at 9 a.m., with guest Jody Jo Mize of KIIS Country 93.7.
The event is free to attend, but those in the know suggest you come with a little cash to help support the raffles and fundraising efforts, with all proceeds going towards the American Cancer Society and Relay’s threefold mission to Fight Back, Remember and Celebrate.
Relay for Life is a 24-hour event to promote cancer awareness and raise money for research. It’s a unifying day and night that manages to walk a perfect line between celebration and solemnity, honoring survivors with a big party and then remembering lost loved ones with a quiet sunset ceremony of walkers surrounded by the light of memorial luminaria.
Participants and team members pitch tents and set up camp on the field, while people take turns walking the track for 24 hours. The first lap starts at 9:30 and is traditionally walked by survivors who are honored by the crowd.
“We are returning where it all began 15 years ago, to Yosemite High School,” explains event chairperson Tami Michel. The event was most recently held at Wasuma Elementary School in Ahwahnee. “We decided we needed a change in order to revitalize our event. Being back at YHS has many advantages, including a more centralized location in town. It will be the first time for our event on the new track.”
Tami says that plans for Relay are proceeding well and participation is up this year, thanks to a great group of volunteers. She says it’s not too late to join in and help out, and encourages anyone who has been touched by cancer or who wants to help raise awareness, to do so.
“We still need volunteers to donate an hour or two the day of the event,” Tami reminds the community. “We need people on Saturday anywhere from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
The Opening Ceremony begins at 9 a.m. with KIIS Country 93.7 morning radio show host Jody Jo Mize as opening speaker.
Parents and grandparents take note: this time, more emphasis will be placed on kids’ activities than ever before.
“Our Kids End Zone will feature inflatables, arts and crafts, and lots of games, all running from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., but the inflatables stay open until 4 p.m.,” advises Tami.
Another perk is that Raley’s Fine Family Store is setting up a marketplace of healthy snacks for everyone to enjoy. Starting at 11 a.m., contemporary Christian band “High Call” will perform hits including some “good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll.”
In terms of Relay for Life Teams, organizers appear to have an outstanding mix of veterans and newcomers walking the track.
“We have many returning teams that have been participating for a long time, and I’m very impressed with our new teams that are really bringing in those donations. One of our new teams this year, “Hand In Hand,” led by Missy Buller. They had to add a second team because they exceeded the 24 team member limit. That is impressive!”
Anyone who wishes to volunteer may contact Tami Michel at (559) 658-1410 or Linda Maddox at (559) 760-2614
Schedule of Events:
Saturday: Opening Ceremony: 9 a.m.
The Opening Ceremony brings everyone together for a high-energy event kickoff to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, to inspire hope by sharing recent accomplishments and progress, and to remind everyone that while we are winning this battle, fighting cancer is a year-round priority.
Survivors Lap: 9:30 a.m.
During the Survivors Lap, upbeat music plays as all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track cheered on by the other participants who line the track, celebrating their victory over cancer.
Luminaria Ceremony: 8 p.m.
The Luminaria Ceremony is a time to remember people we have lost to cancer, to support people who currently have cancer, and to honor people who have fought cancer in the past. The power of this ceremony lies in providing an opportunity for people to work through grief and find hope.
Sunday: Fight Back: 9 a.m.
The Fight Back Ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment we each make to the fight against cancer. The action we take represents what we are willing to do for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community to fight cancer year-round and to commit to saving lives.
Closing Ceremony: 9 a.m.
The Closing Ceremony is a time to remember the lives of those lost and to celebrate that each of us has committed, through our participation in a Relay event, to fight back against this disease over the next year.
Fight Back. Remember. Celebrate.
Visit the Eastern Madera County Relay for Life website page to see what teams are participating and how much money has already been raised.