Cruisin' for a Cure

Marcia Warford-Russell and her team, Cruisin’ for a Cure, have been part of Brentwood’s Relay for Life event since 2008.

Kaleidoscope Cancer Connection, a nonprofit organization based in Discovery Bay that provides hope and connection to people living with cancer in East Contra Costa County, will be participating again this year in Brentwood’s Relay for Life.

The 11th annual event will kick off Saturday, June 27, at Heritage High School’s Amphitheater, at 101 American Ave. in Brentwood at 9 a.m. The overnight event is a fundraiser with food, games, activities and entertainment for the community to enjoy, as well as an opportunity for the community to stand in solidarity against cancer.

“We are very much looking forward to this event,” said Gloria Good, Kaleidoscope’s spiritual care director. “We will be there for the whole thing, have a team walking the track and are providing a workshop on creating luminaries, which are bags decorated in honor or memory of a cancer patient, that will be placed around the track and lit up during the walk.”

Rikki Hall’s Brentwood Relay for Life team, Cruisin’ for a Cure, has been raising money to fight cancer since 2008, and this year, she and other volunteers are returning with the same goal.

For people like Hall, it’s a way to continue the tradition of celebrating the survivors, remembering those that have lost the battle and fighting back against cancer.

“My mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 1999 and beat it,” said Hall, who added that her mother had a mastectomy, aggressive chemotherapy, radiation and reconstruction, all by 2001.

“Watching her go through treatment was the single most difficult thing I’ve ever endured in my life,” said Hall, who found out in February of this year her mother’s cancer had returned.

Hall’s family, including her mother Marcia Warford-Russell and friends from all over California, get together each year to participate in Relay to fight cancer. For Hall, it’s a chance to not only support her mother’s battle, but also to help find a cure.

“We have lost too many in this fight not to stand up and make a difference,” she said.

This year’s event chair, Renee Mariani, has suffered the loss of both a family member and friend to cancer.

“The biggest reason I (do the) relay is because I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched by cancer,” she said.

This year’s event, themed “Relay Around the World,” will be different than prior events.

Besides changing the venue from Liberty High School to Heritage High School, activities will take place at the outdoor amphitheater area at Heritage, which allows the teams to host food fundraisers in addition to regular on-site fundraisers.

Entertainment includes a schedule of local bands, an hour of line dancing lessons and a lip-sync battle. In addition to the amusement, teams will be working hard to raise funds.

Each team sets up a camp and takes turns throughout the day and night walking around the track that circles the amphitheater to raise money to fight cancer. The day will begin with a survivor’s lap and will follow with a caregiver’s lap and a luminaria ceremony in the evening. The walk symbolizes that cancer never sleeps and dawn symbolizes hope for a cure.

Organizers hope to raise about $147,000 at this year’s event. For more information about Brentwood’s Relay for Life event or to make a donation, visit http://goo.gl/ouZgj1.

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