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Relay for Life a meaningful event for whole community

By: Tessa Marguerite, Reporter/Page Designer
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Relay for Life in Auburn

When: 10 a.m. Aug. 18

Where: Gold Country Fairgrounds

Info: To participate, donate or learn more, visit Relayforlife.org/PlacerCountyCA

This weekend, more than 400 participants will spend 24 hours walking laps around the Gold Country Fairgrounds to raise awareness and funds in the fight against cancer.

Placer County’s 18th annual Relay for Life in Auburn will bring together many individuals who have been affected by cancer, either personally or through a friend or family member.

“This year is really on fire,” said Caron Russell, community development manager from the American Cancer Society. “It’s shaping up to be the best one yet.”

According to Russell, approximately $95,000 has been raised for cancer research and patient care services so far in connection with this year’s event.   

Last year, 26 teams participated in this event. This year there are more than 54 teams. Each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps. The idea is that cancer patients don't stop because they're tired, and for one night, neither do the teams of Relay for Life.

Kicking off the event at 9 a.m. Saturday, there will be a Survivor Breakfast at 9 a.m. The meal, catered by Awful Annie’s, is free for survivors of cancer.

The relay will begin at 10 a.m. with the traditional survivor’s lap followed by many “mission related” and themed relays.

At 11 a.m., there will be a cut-a-thon, where stylists will be offering free haircuts to those who wish to donate 8 inches or more to be used by Pantene to make wigs for cancer patients. Pantene does not charge patients for wigs, and makes them all using real hair. This is the first time a hair donation ceremony will take place at the Placer County Relay for Life. Russell commented that Sutter Health recently granted the American Cancer Society $10,000 to be used for wigs, and they will be acknowledging that donation at the cut-a-thon as well. For those who wish to donate fewer than 8 inches, the haircut will cost $8.

When the sun goes down on Saturday night, a luminaria ceremony will be held.

“It’s very somber and probably the most impactful part of the whole program,” said Russell.

The luminaria ceremony honors every life touched by cancer. Individuals are given the opportunity to dedicate a luminaria to a loved one lost, someone currently battling, or anyone who has overcome cancer. At the relay event, luminarias will be decorated with names and sometimes messages of love and encouragement.

After a moment of silence, the luminarias are lit and released in a beautiful dedication ceremony.

Other activities such as bingo, poker, crafts and food vendors will be onsite as well making this free event fun for the whole family. Donations to Relay For Life help the American Cancer Society fund cancer research, critical patient care services and education and prevention initiatives.

This annual affair is put on by the American Cancer Society and is its top fundraising event. The relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers around the world with more than 4 million people in 26 countries.