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Seizing A New Learning Opportunity
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Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

In this case, I am actually referring to myself so I guess, in a way, I’m calling myself an old dog. But that’s okay; it’s just to make a point.

Many readers know that I have been involved with the Relay For Life event for several years, going way back to the second year it was hosted in Oakdale. Friend and co-worker Teresa Hammond is to blame; she went to cover it during the inaugural year in Oakdale and announced shortly thereafter that it was an event the newspaper would be taking part in the next year. We did; the Leadin’ Ladies team joined up the next year and some of us have continued to be involved in varying capacities since. Teresa has served as chairperson, many staff members have been on different committees, I have been co-emcee for several years, working with the Voice of the Mustangs Pete Simoncini. When Escalon was selected to have its own Relay For Life, I also served on the committee there and worked the event as the emcee. Riverbank had its own Relay as well at one time, I more often than not went to support them and cover that event.

When the American Cancer Society combined some events to streamline, they brought Oakdale, Escalon, Riverbank and Waterford together. Oakdale serves as host site, utilizing the soccer fields at the high school. This year it’s my turn to be the chairperson – Event Lead, if we must be official – and I actually took a day off from work (gasp!) to attend a full-day Event Leadership Team (ELT) training conference on Saturday, Feb. 1.

That’s a funny statement by itself now that I read it back; Saturday is probably already a ‘day off’ for most people but there really are no weekends in the newspaper world; if an event is happening it doesn’t matter if it’s Saturday night or Sunday afternoon, we go when we have to.

But whatever I would have gone to on Saturday fell by the wayside as I headed to the training. In all my years of being part of Relay For Life, this was the first formal training session I have ever attended. Fortunately, it was hosted at Modesto Junior College on the West Campus so I didn’t have too far to go. Relay For Life committee chairs, team captains, event leads, cancer survivors, caregivers, ACS staff partners and more from Bakersfield to Chico were there and it was a celebration of life and the difference we all can make.

They gave us facts and figures, put us into breakout sessions so we could fine tune and learn more about our specific roles in helping put on a successful event. There was even a ‘Dolphin Tank’ portion where we were divided into teams and had to ‘sell’ our best solution to a specific Relay problem/issue to the judges.

Basically it all came down to teamwork, learning from each other, refocusing on the reasons we relay and getting all of us geared up and excited for our 2020 events.

We often have a problem here getting people to realize that you can come to Relay For Life even if you aren’t part of a team … we love people to come in during the day and check out the booths, maybe buy a raffle ticket or two, get something to eat – the more people the better. It was a theme we heard many times at the training so at least we are not the only Relay where that happens.

Ultimately, I left the conference with new insights and knowledge and a greater appreciation for how big this event really is and how dedicated and passionate about their cause the Relay For Life group as a whole is.

We are now just a little less than three months away from our Oakdale-Riverbank-Escalon-Waterford Relay For Life; it will be May 2 and 3, at Oakdale High School. Come and join us; I think you will be glad you did.


Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.