Raising dollars to help fight cancer is the goal of the 8th annual Ceres Relay for Life, set for Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21 at the Ceres High School football stadium. But the economy and other factors could be slowing the American Cancer Society toward its goal of $60,000 for the event.
A total of 28 teams -- numbering between 12 and 24 team members -- have signed up since the kickoff and have been actively engaged in fundraising. The $3,700 raised just 17 days out is a far cry from the $60,000 mark.
"Usually the day of the event we make more than before the event," promised Ceres Relay for Life co-chair Terri Jacobs. "But a lot of team members have not turned in their money."
The Ceres fundraiser could be drawn down by the new Hughson Relay for Life, set for the first weekend in May. Jacobs said Ceres is probably also losing support to larger venues, such as the Modesto relay, but feels that the Ceres event has always had a more "family feel" and less of a corporate feel at large events.
"I tell the community to come to our relay and see what we've got going on," said Jacobs. "It's a lot of fun."
There is still plenty of time for persons to join a team or form their own, said Jacobs. Anyone interested in joining the Ceres Relay may attend a 7 p.m. meeting set for Monday, April 8 at Central Valley Christian Academy, 2020 Academy Place, Ceres. Or persons may call the American Cancer Society office in Modesto at 544-9279.
To drum up awareness of the Relay, purple ribbons will be tied onto poles in the area of Ceres High School on Sunday, April 14. Anyone who wants to volunteer to help the committee tie ribbons between 1-3 p.m. is welcome to show up.
The Relay itself gets off to an early start on Saturday, April 20 when members of the Ceres Lions Club serve up breakfast to cancer survivors between 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. west of the football stadium. Survivors are also given a free gift package and invited to walk the first lap.
During the opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m., a local cancer survivor will be speaking. The touching ceremony will include the release of white doves to symbolize those who have survived cancer.
For the following 24 hours, team members will take turns around the track, either running, walking, wheeling or being pulled. Each team is supposed to have a member on the track during the 24 hours. Certain laps will carry a specific theme, some to draw attention to ways to fight types of cancer.
The public is invited to come down and cheer on the walkers and enjoy the entertainment that will be provided the entire 24 hours. There will be ample opportunities to play games or purchase items being sold at each team's station. All proceeds will benefit the ACS. 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 American Cancer Society will be manning a "Fight Back" booth that will dispense information on how the ACS disperses money, and cancer awareness to reduce the likelihood of getting cancer.
On Saturday, April 21 at 9 p.m. comes the emotionally touching Luminaria event, which allows anyone to decorate or write on a bag in memory of a loved one in which later a candle will be placed and set around the darkened track. The name of each person being remembered is read over the loudspeaker. Luminarias may be purchased for $10 on Saturday morning and afternoon.
The event goes all night and closes with a Sunday ceremony at 8:30 a.m. with an announcement of the final fundraising announcement. Sunday morning's "Fight Back" session speaker will be Lisa Vorst.
Jacobs got involved with the American Cancer Society fundraiser after her children's father died of leukemia and she thought, "we have to do more."
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.