Relay for life

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Relay for life

1) Rollerama, on 30th street, hosted relay for life, where many people came out to attend.

Mitchelle De Leon, Reporter

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Last year’s Bakersfield Relay For Life raised more than $2.1 million for the American Cancer Society. It was one of the most successful Relay events in the world.

Sylvia Cariker, Relay’s media coordinator, said, “We want to raise a dollar more than last year.”

Over 400 teams and 9,000 team members participated in last year’s event.

This year’s Relay so far has 260 teams and over 2,300 participants, and it has raised over $176,000 and the race is just gearing up.

Cariker, who has been involved with Relay for over 21 years, said that people involved in Relay are currently “pounding the streets” to get others involved by joining teams, starting teams and participating in fundraisers done by different teams throughout the year.

Team Jr. Skaters For Life held one of the recent fundraisers on Feb. 23 at the Downtown Rollerama. The team hosted a carnival and a junior roller derby scrimmage as a fundraiser for Relay. From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., fifty skaters, ages 7 to 18, in four teams played at the scrimmage with spectators paying $5. Each player also paid the same amount.

In the afternoon, people paid 50 cents for each ticket to participate in various carnival booths that included a photo booth, face paint, hula-hoops, a yard sale, and even a live band called Ebenezer.

Christina Domniguez, whose best friend’s father survived cancer, supported the cause by selling cake for two tickets each while “having a good time,” she said.

It was the first time that the team had hosted a carnival.

Lisa Bryan, the team’s media coordinator, was proud of the turnout.

Adrian Santa Cruz, the team captain, thought that it was a unique way to raise money for Relay.

“Some people have never seen roller derby,” she said. “It’s really exciting and fun to see something new, and it’s even more exciting to watch children compete.”

Santa Cruz, who had been involved with Relay for six years, cited why she spearheaded the fundraising event.

“One of my cousins died at age 30 of brain tumor,” she said. “When Junior Roller Derby started, my daughter played for them, so I thought why not get them involved too.”

Another team also held a recent fundraiser. Team A-C Electric hosted a three-day cruise to Baja, Mexico from Feb. 22 to 24, costing $372 for each ticket. The team raised money through a travel agent donating a hundred percent of his commission from the sales.

Heather Irvin, the team captain, admitted that the steep price prevented people from supporting the fundraiser, calling it “a learning experience.”

“We didn’t raise a whole lot,” she said. “What we’re doing this year is taking pictures to advertise it for next year to show much fun we had.”

However, the team also raised money through various fundraisers, including a golf tournament, a movie marathon with the Fox Theater and a yard sale.

“In our company, we have lunches once a month and twice a month when it’s closer to the event,” she added. “Those lunches in one day, in one hour raise around anywhere between three hundred. We’ve had lunches that raised $1500.”

The team also relies on sponsorship from A-C Electric Company and Cannon.

Irvin, a former BC student, juggles numerous roles. While fulfilling her duties as team captain, she has a full-time job as a database developer for A-C Electric Company and is a part-time CSUB student, pursuing a business degree.

“Sometimes it gets difficult because there’s so much going on,” she admitted, “At times, I have to sit down and think, ‘Why am I doing this?’”

But she finds inspiration from the people involved in Relay.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than being out at Relay and seeing people that you relay for. And there’s a survivor lap where all the survivors of cancer walk the track. It’s probably one of the most moving experiences that anyone can experience ever,” said Irvin. “Watching the kids and the teenagers, it’s amazing to watch people continuing to fight.”

Another way to support Relay is through luminaria bags. Last year’s Relay sold 17,283 luminaria bags, which Cariker described as “a wonderful way to commemorate the passing of a cancer patient and also to honor survivors.

“We always ask that if you have someone who is a survivor and you want to honor them, purchase a Luminaria. They go around the track, and they’re absolutely beautiful,” she said.

With over 30 thousand people at Relay last year, she stressed the importance of volunteers.

“It takes thousands of volunteers to put that event on, people to serve food, people to pick up trash, people to work the gates, and you get to be a part of Relay.” she said. “We like young people, high school and college age, because you’re strong and young with a lot of energy.”

Beyond the scheduled events, Relay will have numerous fundraisers on the actual day.

“Last year I was going around giving raffles for six big screen TVs in various places. You can take home some really cool stuff, and all of that gets counted in our total,” she said.

She also said that it was important for everyone to participate in Relay even for those who have not experienced the arduous journey of cancer in some way.

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, one out of every 10 women would be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lives. That number is now one in every eight,” she said. “Cancer is going to touch everyone’s lives, whether it’s you, a family member, a friend, a coworker, somebody you know is going to be diagnosed with cancer.

“The bottomline for our Relay is always research. We need the money to fund research to find cures for cancer.”

For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/bakersfieldca

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