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Participants Rally To Raise $$ In Fight Against Cancer
Enjoying a little time at the Survivor/Caregiver Tent on Saturday were Patience Gregory, left, and Hailee DaSilva, a local 10-year-old cancer survivor who was named ‘Princess’ of this year’s Relay For Life. Marg Jackson/The Leader

Figures show more than $77,000 was raised in the 2019 Relay For Life staged at Oakdale High School on Saturday, April 27.

The combined Oakdale-Escalon-Riverbank-Waterford event drew participants from those communities for the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event and the top earning team was Nuts For Life out of Escalon, with over $15,000 brought in. Second spot went to ConAgra, over $12,500 raised and the MASH 4144 team, sponsored by Oak Valley Hospital District, brought in nearly $7,900.

Teams gathered for opening ceremonies at 9 a.m. Saturday on the soccer fields at Oakdale High, with a welcome by Mayor J.R. McCarty, the presentation of the colors by the Escalon American Legion Post, the singing of the National Anthem and remarks by three-time cancer survivor Melody Crandell. She told the crowd to keep up the fight, with more money and more research helping to, hopefully, one day find a cure. Crandell had her first bout with cancer 53 years ago. Another long term survivor taking part in the day was Victoria Smith, a 47-year survivor.

The traditional Survivor Lap officially began the day of circling the track, with caregivers joining in, followed by team members.

Teams had everything to eat and drink from nachos to fruit cooler drinks, chicken on a stick, horchata, sno cones, almonds and walnuts, and more. There were also a number of teams with opportunity drawings, from gift baskets to concert tickets, artwork to gardening supplies.

Throughout the day, a number of theme laps encouraged walkers to don superhero gear, glow sticks and the overall theme this year was Through The Decades, with many booths featuring decorations from different eras.

Lori Shiflet of Electric Beach stopped by to offer free massages, part of her donation to the event. The Ball Metalpack team, headed up by Matt and Jo Harris, led the coordinated balloon release in the early evening, with participants able to write messages to loved ones and send them off in the breeze.

The Food Fighters team from the local Raley’s was there in support of friends and family members fighting the disease and in memory of those lost.

Ten-year-old Hailee DaSilva, a survivor who battled stage 4 Willms tumor, was crowned as this year’s Relay Princess and was part of the Raley’s team.

“I think it’s cool,” she said of the entire day. “Being in jail was the most fun.”

The In Memory Of Steve team, by the Perigen family, runs the jail each year and was busy during the day hauling more participants off to jail and letting them go when they turned over their bail.

The Survivor/Caregiver tent was busy all day as well, with craft projects, games, food and fun for the honored guests at the event.

This year’s Relay For Life ran from 9 a.m. to midnight, a change from past years when it has been staged for the full 24 hours. Members of the Oakdale Lions Club, who have in the past put on breakfast both days for participants, this year offered up a lunch on Saturday afternoon instead.

Contestants in the Ms. Relay pageant also entertained the crowd with their impromptu fashion show and tackling the pageant questions. Chocolate Bar, Kiki and Rose all had their supporters but it was Chocolate Bar who earned the title for the 2019 pageant.

There were donations made for the Locks of Love program, an evening luminaria ceremony complete with bagpipe player and the placing of the luminaria bags around the track to light the way in the evening hours for walkers.


Three-time cancer survivor Melody Crandell of Oakdale was the Opening Ceremony guest speaker, sharing her story and urging everyone to continue the fight against cancer. Marg Jackson/The Leader
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Ms. Relay pageant contestant ‘Chocolate Bar’ is joined by his entourage as he makes his way around the track to collect donations as part of the pageant. He earned the flowers and Mardi Gras beads as the pageant winner. Marg Jackson/The Leader