There are a couple of things I can always count on at the Oakdale edition of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.
First, I’m going to talk Sharks hockey with fellow fan Janet Hamby of Fair Oaks Elementary School in Oakdale.
Second, I’m not going to get everything done that I want to do.
Oakdale’s 10th annual Relay For Life was April 16 and 17; Riverbank just hosted its Relay this past weekend and still ahead is the first Relay For Life in Escalon, where they ‘painted the town purple’ this weekend in anticipation of their June 4 and 5 event.
True to form, Mrs. Hamby and I met up and talked hockey at Oakdale; she even had to forego attending a playoff game on the night of April 16. She had tickets; she also had Relay and a team from Fair Oaks to lead. Now, the Sharks are on to the second round and we wait and watch and hope this is the year they raise Lord Stanley’s Cup over their heads in celebration of being the best.
Hey, if the Giants took the World Series, who’s to say it’s not San Jose’s turn for some glory?
Oakdale’s Relay For Life had so much this year, from a very active and successful ‘Celebration Tent’ for survivors to non-stop music and entertainment, lots of haircuts for Locks of Love (with a cancer survivor donating her time to do the cutting) and lots of thanks owed to the various sponsors and supporters along the way.
It also had its share of memorable moments, such as when I was on the microphone chatting back and forth with cohort Pete Simoncini from Oakdale High (we have co-emceed the event the last three years) as he made his way around to the various booths and campsites. During a brief break, as I got ready to ask him another question, one of my daughter’s friends came up from behind me, grabbed the live mic and hollered “I love you Marg!’ for the entire Relay — and quite possibly the whole west side of Oakdale — to hear.
It also brought the unexpected, even though it shouldn’t have. I should know by now that the evening luminaria ceremony brings tears to many … I have been there myself. This year, though, the ceremony was over and I was making my way back to the stage when an Oakdale High freshman that I know by way of my daughter and her friends, walked up to give me a hug. That wasn’t unusual but what I wasn’t prepared for were the sobs that started escaping as he wept for his grandparents — both victims of the disease — and one of his former coaches. I let him know it was okay to cry; we all do, but that by being there he was taking an active role in battling against the disease.
Shortly after I got through that bit of emotional upheaval, I spied my daughter, walking by herself on the field. I went over to check in with her and as she turned toward me, she said “I don’t think I can hold it in anymore” as the tears spilled down her face, remembering — among others — her Learning Tree Preschool teacher Joyce and her great-uncle Gordon. She clung to me as she cried for them and we shared that resolve that makes being a part of Relay so important – cancer touches us all but together we are making strides against it.
As usual, however, there were just things that didn’t get done; even though it seems like 24 hours should be time to get everything in, some just get left by the wayside.
But the important things were accomplished, especially having our survivors there to get the day started and teams coming together to raise money to keep the fight going.
I look forward to doing it all over again next month in Escalon.
Thanks also to those of you who took time to comment on last month’s column, where I spoke about trying to find a balance between continuing to cover my Escalon sports teams while following my own 15-year-old’s sports career at Oakdale High.
The week after that column appeared, I had the pleasure of traveling to an away game and being there when she scored her first high school goal, a great memory for both of us.
And yes, I had the camera with me.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times and The Oakdale Leader and assistant editor for The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.