AHWAHNEE – It’s time to start planning an event the mountain community takes seriously: Eastern Madera County (EMC) Relay For Life is scheduled for Saturday, May 18 at 9 a.m. and will unfold over 24 heartfelt hours, on the field at Wasuma Elementary School.
This is the 14th year of EMC Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society. This 24-hour event is dedicated to celebrating cancer survivors, remembering those lost to the disease, and fighting back by raising money for research and cures. Last year, EMC Relay raised nearly $63,000 for the cause.Organizers are meeting regularly and teams are forming for the popular event now, according to Chairperson Nicole Meeker, who wants to spread the word and get as many people involved as possible.
“We meet the 2nd Monday of the month at Oakhurst Medical Group on Junction Drive in Oakhurst. Times are 5:30 p.m. for Team Captains, and the Committee meets at 6:30 p.m.,” says Meeker.
Linda Gott-Maddox is a committee member in charge of Team Development, has a big job on her hands. She encourages those who can help to come onboard. “We are looking for committee members to help plan this event.”
Teams form and raise money by requesting donations from the community, and in return donors may receive a dedicated luminaria, actually a sand-filled paper bag complete with glow-stick, which will decorate the track during the bittersweet Luminaria Ceremony that concludes the first day of Relay. Many who attend stay overnight in tents, as a member of each team walks the track in honor those lost.
Teams already assembled include the Oakhurst Lutheran Church, the OES Eagles (Oakhurst Elementary School), a group calling themselves “The Insomniacs,” one known as “Fire and Ice,” and one with the hopeful moniker, “Live Laugh Love.” Many more teams are expected to participate.
Relay for Life is the primary volunteer-driven annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Relay began in the United States and now takes place in at least 21 countries and in cyberspace, and is estimated to have raised over $3 billion since its grass-roots Washington State inception in 1985.
This year’s Relay begins with a 9 a.m. Opening Ceremony to kick off the celebration of cancer survivors, followed by the Survivors Lap at 9:30 a.m., where those who have or are beating the disease walk the track to the wild cheers of other participants lining the track.
Festivities continue throughout the day, with entertainment, fellowship, free snacks and drinks available for participants, and a host of sponsors and vendors lining up to fight the battle against cancer and support its survivors. EMC Relay for Life is an overwhelmingly positive, often emotional experience.
At 8 p.m. the Luminaria Ceremony begins, “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,” say the organizers. “The power of this ceremony lies in providing an opportunity for people to work through grief and find hope.” The event evokes a rainbow of emotions from laughter to tears.
The next morning, Sunday, May 18, the Fight Back Ceremony at 8 a.m. symbolizes the emotional commitment participants make to fight cancer and the Closing Ceremony takes place at 9 a.m.
For more information please contact EMC Relay for Life Chairperson Nicole Meeker at 559 760-4020.
The next meeting is Feb. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Oakhurst Medical Center, 40232 Junction Dr, Oakhurst.