OAKHURST – After months of planning, EMC Relay for Life returns to the track at Yosemite High School this weekend, rain or shine, starting Saturday, May 16 at 9 a.m. and running overnight through Sunday, May 17. This year’s theme as voted on by the local committee is “Give Cancer The Boot!” and that’s just what organizers are expecting to do.
“We had our last team captain meeting Monday and are super excited,” says Relay committee chair Tami Michel. “Our Yosemite High School teams led by Ryleigh Hinojosa and Kristin Bonillas, and Minarets High School team led by Christian Masumoto, are gearing up to go head-to-head to win most spirited team. It really sets a fun tone at Relay. We’re also thrilled that Minarets team captain Christian Masumoto is stepping up and singing the National Anthem for us.”
Tami also notes that a special part of this year’s luminaria ceremony will honor a fallen friend to many.
“We will be remembering Rachel Boswell, who we lost to cancer this past year,” Tami explains. “Rachel was the much-loved receptionist at YHS and very involved in the community of Coarsegold. Susan Tempesta and Kelli Romine will be speaking.”
One of the new teams this year is Oakhurst Sierra Rotary led by Christine Smith. Returning for 2015 is the Lions Club team sponsoring the Kidz Corral, organized by Stevie Trujillo. For kids, the event will feature giant inflatables, arts & crafts and lots of fun games.
Relay for Life has been gearing up all year for this weekend’s big event, and some team members recently found themselves front and center at a different sort of gathering.
“We participated this year at the Coarsegold Rodeo where our Survivors got to ride into the arena in brand new pick-up trucks on loan from Silva Ford,” Tami says.
“They had a blast soaking up the spotlight as they were cheered on by the crowds. When they were done, they received a sack lunch and enjoyed the rest of the day there at the rodeo. Relay For Life got a lot of love from the Coarsegold Rodeo this year, our banner proudly hung in the arena the entire weekend.”
All community members are invited to attend Relay this year, and Tami wants to remind people that it’s a free, family-friendly event.
“Everyone is welcome. We could use some walkers, and we encourage anyone who wants to during the 24 hours to come and hit the track and walk. It is not required that you be on a team,” she points out.
As anyone who’s been there will tell you, Eastern Madera County Relay for Life (EMC Relay) is exceptionally special in many ways, including the amount of money raised each year and the spirit with which the big event is annually undertaken.
At EMC Relay, teams of people camp out overnight and take turns walking, skipping, dancing and running the track. Surrounding the track are informational booths, supporters, tents, tables, music, food and friends.
It’s a festival atmosphere that opens and closes with great ceremony. Anyone can participate in Relay For Life, whether friends, relatives, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, congregations, service organizations, sports teams or you-name-it.
As dusk settles over the foothills the night of the 24-hour event, the mood changes from upbeat to thoughtful, as luminaria are lit in memory of those who’ve lost their struggle with cancer, and others walk the track reflectively. Then, the fun begins anew.
Relay Chairperson Tami Michel says this year the goal for EMC Relay by ACS is $68,000 — a huge amount by any standard, and especially for a rural area. So far, 21 teams and 216 participants have raised over $46,000. Tami wants to “blow past that number,” and says this is the year to do it.