Every year, more than 8 million people worldwide die from cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, many of these deaths could be avoided with increased governmental support and funding for prevention, detection, and treatment programs.
Saturday was the second year for the Colusa County Relay for Life, and all of the action was at the Colusa County Fairgrounds.
A total of eight teams, about 100 participants in all, walked the relay track, raising more than $15,738 for the American Cancer Society, its programs, and research.
“Relay For Life is the signature event of the American Cancer Society and is not only a fundraiser to support the Society’s lifesaving mission to help people stay well and get well, to find cures, and to fight back, but is also about a community uniting to fight cancer,” said one event chair member, Rene Ross.
Ceremonies kicked off, at 9:00 AM, starting with a survivors breakfast. At 10:00 AM, cancer survivor Vanessa Rodriguez presented her story, which led the cancer survivors in attendance into the first lap. As each survivor completed a lap, the Williams Volunteer Firefighters Association presented each with a Survivor Medal.
The Colusa County VFW served as the honor guard while Rosalyn & Bailey Wilson sang the national anthem.
Along with taking lap after lap around the park, participants played games, purchased souvenirs and food from teams, and most importantly honored those lost to cancer.
Every hour, themes were introduced on the track to help keep the spirit and fun going. Themes included “Born to be Wild”, “Fairy Tale & Super Hero”, “Tutu’s for Tata’s”, “Summer Beach Party”, and many more.
Fun was had during half hour intervals with specialty games played for spirit points. These games included a water balloon toss, frozen t-shirt contest, the Ping Pong and Kleenex box game, as well as the popular Miss’ter Relay, and the Road to Recovery Car Show.
The spirit leader included D.J. Kent Boes who acted as Master of Ceremonies, keeping up the pace and lively conversation as participants made their way around the track.
During the Luminaria Ceremony, Jo Laoretti, a Caregiver, told her story of how Relay for Life Changed her life.
“I met my husband at a Relay for Life, and we were the first couple to get married at an event,” said Laoretti. “I am the first bride known to have over 1,000 bridesmaids.”
For Laoretti, she learned just how the Relay for Life Community extends outside of the track after hearing her husband had cancer for the second time.
“They all came together and helped in ways I didn’t expect,” she said, “They prepared meals, drove my kids around, and helped raised money for our trips to appointments. Most importantly, they supported us in the decisions we had to make in my husband’s treatment, something nobody understands unless you’ve been there before.”
Laoretti commented that she continues to relay and has built lasting friendships.
Following Laoretti’s speech, Colusa County Mini Miss, Karsyn Gwinnup, performed “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus.
During the closing ceremony, recipients of the Relay for Life Spirit Stick, the Paint the County Purple’ award, and individual and team awards were given out.
“We raised $15,738! That is outstanding!” said event chairperson, Santana King. “If you don’t know already, the work we do benefits everyone regardless of where the funds are raised. Although all the answers to cancer may not be found in our particular community, our community will help support those answers and cures and ultimately benefit from them.”
The top three fundraising individuals were announced as Nola McCausland, Chelsea Bauman, and Dawn Brown. The top three teams were announced as West Coast Combine, Valley West Care Center, and Team Hope.
The Colusa County Relay for Life Spirit Stick was awarded to Team Sweet Bean Bakery, edging out Team Emery by a small margin. Team Emery was the recipient of the Spirit Stick in 2015.
The Paint Your County Purple award went to All Star Realty, and Richie’s Florist.