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Relay For Life Effort Nears $74,000 Mark
Patient Courage
Honored with the Patient Courage Award at this years Relay For Life was two-time cancer survivor Kevin Wise, a battalion chief with Stanislaus Consolidated Fire, accepting the award from Survivor Lead Annie Lemons. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Leader

In an effort to unite the area in the fight against cancer, the 2018 Relay For Life brought together teams from four communities in Oakdale over the weekend. The combined Oakdale Escalon Riverbank Waterford Relay For Life also raised an estimated $74,000 for the American Cancer Society.

The signature fundraising event for ACS, the 2018 Relay For Life was staged on the campus of Oakdale High School, with teams setting up their tents around the soccer fields. Events began with Opening Ceremonies on Saturday morning, May 5 at 9 a.m., featuring remarks from Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul, some special guest speakers, a release of doves and the carrying of a banner by a group of cancer survivors to begin the walking.

The 24-hour team event typically sees at least one member of each team on the track at all times, signifying that cancer never sleeps. There are also special theme laps, contests, musical entertainment and a variety of activities hosted for cancer survivors and their caregivers. This year included a wood heart craft, a garden of hope, painting class and a fiesta dinner in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo. During the painting class, it was also a reunion of sorts for three cancer survivors – who learned their paths had crossed at different times – even before they all fought their individual battles.

Amanda Hall, Ellen Burton and Donna Carnes had all been involved in efforts to help cancer patients and had all been the recipient of help, binding them together in a unique way.

The day also featured lots of entertainment, including musician Josh Rosenblum, who brought his popular brand of music to Oakdale, while the Rhythm and Moves dance company of Jaclyn Ortiz also performed in the afternoon. Stanislaus Consolidated firefighters hosted a piñata bashing and handed out gift cards to walkers on the track.

Unique to the Oakdale event, the Ms. Relay contest was hosted once again and attendees got to view the guys dressing up as women event, an over the top beauty pageant. Contestants ‘work’ the crowd for cash donations to help them win the coveted title as well as fielding questions from emcee Pete ‘The Voice of Oakdale’ Simoncini. All the money goes back to the event to benefit ACS.

Jungle Jim was this year’s DJ and also helped raise money by taking song requests – at a dollar a song – and kept the tunes spinning day and night.

Café Bliss provided hot soup at 1 a.m. and the Oakdale Lions Club served up breakfast, free to participants, on both Saturday and Sunday.

Event lead Andrea Hernandez said that the teams this year raised over $16,500 in their onsite fundraising alone during the 24 hour period and the overall total so far is roughly $74,000 for the 2018 event.

“Our little communities are in this for the fight,” Hernandez said.

The Patient Courage Award this year was presented to two-time cancer survivor and Stanislaus Consolidated Battalion Chief Kevin Wise, receiving the honor at the Sunday morning closing ceremonies. The top overall fundraising team was Nuts For Life, an Escalon-based team and the top onsite fundraising team was Komonawanacure out of Oakdale.