Above are the "Relay for Life" committee members that have spent many hours preparing for this weekend with the hope of raising money that will "Stamp out Cancer"

Relay for Life: Going on now

April 26, 2014
Santa Paula News

Those taking part in one of Santa Paula's most enduring fundraisers are circling the track now and for 24 hours straight because "Cancer Never Sleeps" but Relay for Life is at the ready to knock the disease out.

The 13th Annual American Cancer Society/Santa Paula Relay for Life will be held Saturday and Sunday at Limoneira Soccer Fields just east of Hallock Drive.

"This is Lucky 13," said Relay spokesperson Bob Orlando of Santa Paula, a former chair of the event whose interest was prompted by cancer issues within his family.

Although participation is a bit down he still expects "We'll make our goal of about $80,000... it's very realistic although we had some years where we made $120,000 to $130,000 or so," record fund raising that ironically came during the years of the Great Recession.

This year's Relay is again chaired by Gwen Harrod and John Marquez: "They're wonderful people with a real strong commitment and a strong committee," helping with the event that draws hundreds of people to the soccer park.

Relay for Life starts Saturday at 10 a.m. with the Survivor's March; other special events are the Luminaria Lighting Saturday evening at 8 p.m. and closing ceremonies Sunday at 10 a.m.

In between there's non-stop entertainment, food, fun and action as teams make sure to have at least one member circling the track-running, strolling, wheel chairing, whatever-for the full 24-hours.

Orlando is proud that "This year's Relay for Life will start us on our second million," funds raised for programs for those with the disease and their families as well as ongoing research efforts to battle cancer, an effort that over the years have been met with rising success.

Of the million-plus raised locally, "Just think of the significance of that," said Orlando of the fundraising effort that each year sees Santa Paula have the highest per capita rate of giving in Ventura County.

"Someone said we have a banner for raising $1 million... and our Cancer Crushers," Isbell Middle School students that fundraise all year long for the Relay, "have raised $200,000-TWO-HUNDRED-THOUSAND-DOLLARS-all on their own... they are amazing."

As are those who have supported the Relay for Life cause over the years: "Gosh, Laura Flores Espinosa, Mike Mobley, John Procter, the late Matt Cooper, Stephanie Morales, Tina Urias, Frances and Danny Gonzales, Pam and Joe Oliver, of course Carol Wood and Truk Ahlers-those two have been fantastic year after year-Jeanette Stratton and her dad Ruben, Cancer Crusher advisors Todd McWherter and Mark Robinson... too many name. So many terrific people have done so many terrific things, it's just wonderful.

"We've had some great people, definitely community-minded people that are interested and concerned... typical of Santa Paula, an amazing community."

Said Orlando, "I am so proud of this town!"

He remembers the first Relay where 16 teams raised $30,000.

"We're down this year but so far we still have 44 teams, we're always open for more," who want to raise money in the fight against a disease that strikes one in three families.

Sadly, there is no one that hasn't known someone with cancer, that has cancer in his or her own family or has had their own battle with cancer.

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Remember it is free to attend Relay for Life where you can enjoy live music and see what a great time you can have for a great, worthy cause.

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