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15-hour Relay for Life to take aim at cancer
Event starts 9 a.m. at Ceres High football field
Fun things like pies in the face are found at the Ceres Relay for Life. Last year Ken Groves had fun hitting Eric Ingwerson in the face at a Relay booth. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

There will be a break with the traditional 24-hour event for a 15-hour Relay for Life will be held this Saturday on the Ceres High School football field in an effort to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

The 2016 Ceres Relay for Life event will get underway at 9 a.m. with beginning ceremonies and end at midnight.

The 11th annual event is expected to draw at least a thousand people over the 15-hour period.

"We decided to go the 15 hours partly because of the lack of participation this year," said Ceres Relay Committee chair Wes Stamper. "It just makes it easier on a lot of people."

It's not too late to get involved in the American Cancer Society fundraiser, said Stamper. A total of 18 teams have signed up - 24 had signed up by this time last year - and the committee is looking for more. Anyone interested in forming a team or participating in any of the fundraisers may contact

Last year's Ceres Relay raised $65,000 and this year's effort thus far has raised about $37,000, he said. Approximately $20,000 was raised through the Ceres Relay for Life Hoedown held March 19 at a private venue in Turlock. The event featured a dance, car and bike show, dinner cooked up by the Ceres Lions Club and 100 raffle and silent auction items.

"If we can be over $45,000, I'll be excited about that. Ratio wise that would be above what we did last year."

The Relay activities start when members of the Ceres Lions Club cook a free breakfast for cancer survivors and their family beginning at 8 a.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 9 a.m. when the event is dedicated in memory of Khloe Gustin, who was claimed last year by leukemia 11 days before her third birthday. The ceremony will include singing, a symbolic release of doves, short talks and survivors walking the first lap.

For the following 15 hours, team members will take turns around the track running, walking, wheeling or being pulled. Each team is supposed to have at least one member on the track during the relay. Each hour will offer a different theme with participants "dressing up to that theme," said Stamper.

The public is welcome to come down to the CHS athletic field and cheer on the walkers and enjoy the entertainment that will be provided. There will be ample opportunities to play games or purchase items being sold at each team's station. Some teams will sell food and homemade crafts, and offer raffle baskets. Each booth will highlight a specific cancer and will offer literature on that cancer.

"The Relay for Life event is basically like a little Street Faire. You go out there and all the teams are offering raffles or tri-tip sandwiches for sale or something like that so I encourage everybody to come out and check out what we have going on out there."

At 9 p.m. the Relay will turn its attention to giving away a used 2008 Chevy Equinox donated by Bronco Winery. Stamper said the vehicle, while used, is a "perfect vehicle for a teenager or a single mother. Tickets are being sold at the event for $5 each or six for $20.

At 8 p.m. comes the moving Luminaria event, which allows anyone to decorate a bag in memory of a loved one in which a candle will be placed and set around the darkened track as each name is read over the loudspeaker. Luminaries may be purchased for $10 on Saturday morning and afternoon.

Funds raised in Ceres will be used to support the myriads of services and research by the ACS. Besides the medical research, the ACS offers emotional support to cancer patients and families, and volunteers provide rides for patients to chemotherapy treatments.