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Weekend Brings Annual Relay For Life
oak relay
Officially cutting the purple ribbon to kick off Paint the Town Purple week, Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul, center left, and cancer survivor Marilyn Boatright, at right, share the honors as Relay For Life of Oakdale committee members, participants and other cancer survivors look on. The 2016 Relay in Oakdale is this weekend at Oakdale High School, April 23 and 24. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Teams, cancer survivors, caregivers and the community will gather this weekend at Oakdale High School, participating in the annual Relay For Life of Oakdale. This year’s event runs from Saturday, April 23 through Sunday, April 24.

Committee members and American Cancer Society personnel joined forces with Oakdale Mayor Pat Paul on Thursday morning at Wood Park to cut the purple ribbon to signify the start of ‘Paint the Town Purple’ week, leading up to the actual 24-hour Relay event.

Ribbons and bows have been tied on light posts and signs throughout the community; purple is the color of cancer survivorship.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event and this year, Oakdale has 25 teams registered with over 250 participants so far, with more anticipated the day of the event. Pre-event fundraising has already pushed the total over $42,000 raised in the fight against cancer.

The Relay itself is staged on the soccer fields at OHS, with teams setting up booths and campsites, offering a variety of food, games, merchandise and more to raise money the day of the event. There must be at least one member from each team on the track around the location at all times during Relay and the festivities will start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday with the formal opening ceremonies. The Survivor Lap, honoring those that are fighting or have beaten the disease, is at 9 a.m.

Throughout the day, there are various theme laps, musical entertainment, fun and educational activities and contests. Pantene Long Lengths is scheduled to be on site this year as well, cutting hair that will later be utilized in wigs for cancer patients.

Survivors are the honored guests at Relay and the community is encouraged to stop by the event, take in the booths, purchase some food and support the Relay effort.

An evening luminaria ceremony gives a chance to reflect on those that have been lost to the disease and Relayers continuing walking laps throughout the night, the 24-hour time frame signifying that “cancer never sleeps.”

ACS staff partner Donna Stephens is working with Oakdale for the first time this year. She was busy with the Riverbank relay this past weekend and also serves as staff partner for the Escalon relay, which is planned in June. She said she is looking forward to Oakdale’s event, having enjoyed working with a dedicated committee to put the event on for the community.

Many teams return each year; among the top fundraising teams prior to this year’s event are MASH 4144, Oak Valley Cancer Busters and Komonawanacure.