Barbara Robertson

Barbara Robertson encourages walkers at last year’s American Cancer Society Relay For Life of the Delta. The event raised over $100,000 with 70 teams, and organizers are expecting another large turnout this year.

Relay for Life of the Delta is coming back to Contra Costa County June 22. 

Since 2000, Relay for Life has been a tradition in East County, happening in several cities including Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Pittsburg and Discovery Bay. Last year, East County Relay for Life organizers made the decision to combine the cities to create one Relay for Life event in Pittsburg.

“The idea to merge the cities came about to cut overhead costs, allowing the most money to be donated back to the American Cancer Society,” said Jamie Rackley, co-lead of Relay for Life of the Delta. “Also, the merging of cities in the county brings our communities together, creating one super relay. Last year, we were honored to celebrate 140 survivors and welcomed over 800 registered participants.”

The event is a community-oriented fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, with the mission of raising money for cancer research, treatment and prevention. Participants take shifts walking in shifts for 24 hours in honor of those who have succumbed to cancer, survived or are fighting the disease. 

The Delta relay begins at 10 a.m. with the opening ceremony, where survivors and supporters of the fight to end cancer will be honored. To follow will be the Survivor/Caregiver Walk, when survivors and caregivers take laps around the track as others cheer on their determination and strength. Afterward, the full event kicks into gear, and all attendees are encouraged to walk the track to symbolize the continued fight against cancer. 

At 9 p.m., attendees will light luminarias in a ceremony that honors family and friends who have lost their battles with cancer, and as symbols of support for survivors as well as those still fighting. The closing ceremony at 9:30 a.m. the following day celebrates the accomplishments of the day before and aims to raise awareness about the disease and ways to continue involvement in the cause.

In addition to raising cancer awareness, people come to Relay for Life of the Delta because it is family-friendly, free and a lot of fun. This year, Relay for Life of the Delta includes several activities to increase fundraising and entertainment. 

“We will have a kid zone full of games and activities, live music, food, raffles and so much more,” said Rackley. “Just a few of the bands performing will be Project 4, Whiskey Slough, American Made and Samantha Vaughn.”

According to Rackley, all proceeds from raffles, food and on-site fundraisers will go to the American Cancer Society. Funds are also raised through pledges from family members and friends of the participants.

“Relay For Life is so special because it brings everyone together to fight cancer and support one another, and it gives people a platform to make a tangible difference in their community,” said Anh Nguyen, community development manager for Relay for Life of the Delta. “Relay For Life is a 24-hour event to show the strength of our community, and remind us that ‘cancer never sleeps; neither do we.’”

Relay for Life of the Delta provides a sense of belonging, support and community for survivors and caregivers.

“Whether you are a survivor, a caregiver or a friend, we all have been affected by cancer, and all have a story,” said Rackley. “Some come to celebrate those that have fought and won; some come to remember those they’ve lost, while others come hoping for a cure. Regardless of the reason, the strength and inspiration you experience at Relay, talking to others that have been affected by this horrible disease, is indescribable. It’s truly a moving experience.”

Nguyen emphasizes the impact of Relay for Life of the Delta in Contra Costa County.

“The fight to end cancer and support cancer research is so important, and this event allows the community to participate in these efforts,” said Nguyen.

Relay for Life of the Delta will last 24 hours, from June 22 to 23, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at the same time the following morning. The event will be held at Los Medanos College, 2700 E. Leland Road, in Pittsburg. For more information, call 408-646-9293, email anh.nguyen@cancer.org or visit http://bit.ly/thepressnet_delta_relay.

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