The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life of Tri-Valley on June 22-23 is a 24-hour event -- held round the clock to recognize that cancer never takes a break and neither can the fight against it.
"It started in 1985, with Dr. Gordon Klatt -- he was an oncologist -- and he circled the track at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington," said event manager Anh Nguyen of the American Cancer Society. "He said he'll walk around the track for 24 hours to raise money for cancer, and it eventually grew into a nationwide movement."
This year's Tri-Valley event is being held on the football field at Granada High School, and teams have been forming and fundraising for months.
"One team did an Easter fundraiser," Nguyen said. "There have been fundraisers, and individuals email friends and families to ask for donations."
This Saturday, Relay for Life enthusiasts will be in the Livermore Rodeo Parade, as a way to engage with the public. Then on June 15 look out for the purple ribbons on Main Street as volunteers Paint the Town Purple -- the event's signature color -- in both Pleasanton and Livermore to publicize the Relay for Life.
It is not too late to form a new team or join an existing team for the relay, Nguyen said. Go to www.relayforlife.org/trivalleyca.
People also can just show up the day of the event.
"Everyone who comes to the event ... will be asked to register," Nguyen said. "If people are survivors or caregivers, we want to know. But everyone is more than welcome to just come."
Registration begins at 8 a.m. June 22, and the relay kicks off at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony and a celebratory survivors lap followed by a caregivers lap. Then the fundraising teams take to the track, and for 24 hours each will have a member walking.
At the event, teams set up tents for their home bases. As of last week 23 teams had signed up, but Nguyen said the event also attracts last-minute entries.
"It's a big field, we can accommodate a lot of people," she said.
Festivities continue all day, with live music, games and food for sale to generate contributions. Fun activities include a frozen T-shirt contest, where each walker grabs a block of ice from a freezer and tries to thaw, unravel and put on the T-shirt while doing the lap.
"Whoever reaches the finish line with the T-shirt on first wins," Nguyen said.
Around 9 p.m. the luminaria lap will take place, to counteract the darkness of fear a patient feels after a diagnosis. Participants can dedicate luminarias to their loved ones for a donation ($10 suggested) to celebrate survivors, commemorate those lost, and tell those affected that they are not alone.
The event ends Sunday morning June 23 with a fight-back ceremony reminding everyone of the reason for Relay for Life.
Last year Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and Danville combined their events for the first joint Relay for Life of Tri-Valley, held at Dublin High, and raised $130,000. Participants become part of an organization of 2.5 million survivors, patients, advocates, volunteers and caregivers doing everything they can to fund research and support for those affected by cancer.
At that first event, Dr. Gordon Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours, more than 83.6 miles, and raised $27,000. Since then Relay for Life has become the largest volunteer fundraiser in the entire world, held at venues around the country. In 1996, it became a global movement, and is now held in more than 20 countries.
Purple is the color for the American Cancer Society and the Relay for Life event. Mr. Mirura, a lung cancer survivor and the founder of Relay for Life in Japan, says this color resonated with him. He recalls looking out the window just before the sun rose, when he felt most alone, and seeing the most beautiful purple in the world for just a few seconds between night and morning. He noted this is the color that all cancer patients wait to see -- proof they have lived through one more night.
Tri-Valley Relay for Life activity schedule
10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Face painting/arts and crafts in Kids Camp
11 a.m., Water musical chairs
1 p.m., Frozen T-shirt contest
2:30 p.m., Hot potato water balloon game
4 p.m., Plastic egg race
5:30 p.m., Tug of war
6:30 p.m., Lip sync/karaoke
7 p.m., Road to Recovery Race
7:30 p.m., Bean bag toss
8:30 p.m. Lawn bowling
11 p.m., Ring toss
12 a.m., Midnight birthday/dance party
2 a.m., Kid-friendly movie.