Approximately 690 participants risked blistered feet in the searing heat that peaked at 106 F, and walked the track at Liberty High School to demonstrate that the search for a cure never rests. So far, the effort has raised $173,000 for the American Cancer Society’s research and support programs.
“It was such an awesome event,” said Event Chair Lynn Gursky. “It was awesomely hot, but so many people came out to support what we are doing – raising funds for the American Cancer Society. The temperatures were high, but so was the spirit of the Relay participants. Sure, we were wilting in the afternoon, but it was a really fun event.”
In January, Brentwood Relay organizers set a goal of raising at least $182, 201 – an unusually specific goal, but one that would bring Brentwood’s eight-year Relay total to $2 million. Brentwood participants are only $9,000 away, and Gursky is confident that the goal will be reached by the fundraising cutoff in August.
While the 2012 Relay season isn’t over yet, 2012 Co-chair Ron Yarolimek, who will serve as event chair in 2013, said there has already been talk of moving next year’s Relay to May in hopes of avoiding the sweltering temperatures.
“You never know what the weather is going to be like, but we’re considering having Relay earlier in the year next year,” Yarolimek said. “The heat really got to people, and we want to make sure that everyone is out there enjoying themselves. But even with the heat this year, the spirit of the Relay participants was amazing. They decorated their campsites and made custom shirts. That spirit never wavered, and that’s what makes Relay such a special community event.”
This year’s Relay featured loads of activities and live entertainment. Even Sharkie, the mascot of the San Jose Sharks, stopped by to pump up the crowd. As is common with every Relay, there were plenty of wacky outfits, crazy hats and spirited signs on the track as part of the 24-hour celebration, but many Relay participants found the quiet of the Luminaria ceremony the most inspiring.
After miles of fun-filled laps, Relay takes a moment to remember those who have lost their battle against cancer. Decorated, lighted bags are placed around the track to pay tribute to those who have passed on.
“The Luminaria ceremony really drives home why we Relay,” said Brentwood resident Jemma Robbins. “You see all the bags around the track, and you see how cancer has no prejudice. Cancer affects the young and old. Cancer doesn’t care what color you are or what you believe. It’s a sick disease that shows no mercy, and that’s why we’re out here. We’re making a statement to show cancer that we’re not going to give in. We’re going to fight.”
And the fight continues this summer. Brentwood Relay is teaming with Oakley Relay for the inaugural Bark For Life, a truncated version of Relay in which participants take to the track, dogs in tow, on July 21 at O’Hara Park in Oakley. For more information about ways to support Brentwood’s 2012 Relay For Life effort, visit www.relayforlife.org/brentwoodca.
This year participants were invited to share their thoughts about Relay in the Relay Living Room. A video compilation of their responses can be viewed on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThySmqOjHXY.