The 19th annual Relay for Life fundraiser is set for this upcoming weekend in San Benito County.
The event kicks off with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at 2 p.m. Saturday at Ladd Lane Elementary School, 161 Ladd Lane in Hollister. The event is traditionally held at San Benito High School, but the fields there are under renovations this summer.
Relay for Life is a team-focused fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, which raises funds to support the fight against the disease that affects people everywhere. This year’s theme is “Road to Recovery.”
Jessica Ruiz, the community developer in this region for the American Cancer Society, said the activities actually include a Kids Zone that open at 5 p.m. Friday and then also be a free survivor dinner from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“One of the most special and touching ceremonies is the luminaria at 9 p.m.,” Ruiz said.
“The ceremony is to remember those cancer survivors who have passed and to honor the caregivers.”
There were 22 teams as of mid-July, but she said a lot of people will end up registering the day of the event.
There could be anywhere from 150 to 350 people taking part, she estimated.
As for the dollars, the local Relay for Life fundraiser has a goal of raising $110,000. The teams have been fundraising year-round, and had raised a total of more than $86,266 as of Monday.
Over the event’s 19 years locally, there has been more than $1 million raised, she said.
There are large and small fundraisers throughout the year. Two of the big ones are the Pulling for a Cure truck pull in the fall and the Harvest Hope for a Cure pumpkin patch in October, Ruiz said.
Additionally, teams will sell an array of goods on the event day to raise even more funds. Ruiz said 100 percent of the money donated at the event goes directly to the American Cancer Society.
Ruiz said Relay brings out a lot of the same dedicates participants each year.
“We know that cancer has touched so many people,” she said.
She said the mission statement of the organization is to “save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.”
She also credited the many volunteers, including a committee, who make the local event happen.
“We as the American Cancer Society are 100 percent volunteer led. Our volunteers in the community are the face of the American Cancer Society.”
Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Relay for Hollister in San Benito County
-Story by Kollin Kosmicki