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May 28, 2024

Relay for Life to reach 20-year milestone in local cancer fight

Relay for Life in San Benito County will hold its 20th annual event this weekend while continuing the local fight against cancer. 

That 20-year milestone is a focus for this year’s Relay for Life starting at 6 p.m. Friday at Rancho San Justo Middle School. The organization and its many volunteers continue their steadfast efforts, which raised over $100,000 last year alone for the American Cancer Society and over $2 million as a whole. 

“That’s a remarkable achievement for our little community,” said Chuck Obeso-Bradley, who has been involved with the local Relay organization for 19 of the 20 years. 

One of the signature elements of the annual event is the Survivor Lap at the outset. 

Obeso-Bradley recalled how he had been on the Leadership Committee and involved for years when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2007. The event changed for him at that point. 

“When I went through the relay as a survivor, when I walked a survivor lap with my family in the stands crying, it just hit me like a ton of bricks,” he said. “I had already been volunteering for relay for five or six years and I thought I knew all about it. We’re not only raising the funds which are so needed to find a cure for this terrible disease, but we bring survivors together.” 

He noted how the motto is Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back. 

“We celebrate those who are in their battle, we remember those who lost their battle, and we fight back,” he said. 

This year, there will be a “new wrinkle” for the Survivor Lap but it will remain a surprise. 

Another signature facet of the event will come around 9 p.m. with the Luminaria Ceremony, during which candles are lit to recognize those who have passed and those who are fighting cancer. Lights go dim in the event area with the exception of the electric candles representing each person. 

Story continues below this video from the 2018 event:

“It’s a really powerful, powerful time,” he said. 

Obeso-Bradley wanted to mention that organizers are grateful to San Benito High School for hosting the event for 18 years before the renovation of the campus sports facilities. They’re now grateful to the Hollister School District as well, with last year’s event at Ladd Lane and this year at Rancho. 

“We’re very very grateful to the local school districts for hosting us,” he said. “They’re wonderful, wonderful hosts.” 

Relay for Life spokeswoman Jessica Ruiz, meanwhile, released all the basic information for the event (see below) and underscored this year’s message to San Benito Live. 

“Time is valuable. Don’t waste it,” she said.

Below is a summary of the local Relay for Life Schedule: 

Celebrating 20th Annual Relay For Life of San Benito County

August 2-3, 2019

6:00 pm – 2:00pm

Rancho San Justo Middle School

Opening Ceremony at 6:00pm

Guest Speaker:  Trisha Ocampo

National Anthem singer: Francesca Giannotta

Free Survivor Dinner – provided by Hazel Hawkins

Following opening ceremony

Kids zone opens at 5:00pm

Activities include:

  • Coloring in T-shirts
  • Decorating cardboard boxes as a Car for Drive-in movie after dark

Luminaria Ceremony at 9:00pm

Performers: The Oriana Chorale

Guest speaker: Darin Smith

See the full press release on this year’s Relay for Life below:

On August 2 – 3, 2019, local participants will join together at the annual Relay For Life of San Benito County at Rancho San Justo Middle School to help beat our biggest rival – cancer. The event starts at Friday 6:00pm and end Saturday 2:00pm.           

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is the only organization fighting cancer on every front. Funds raised from Relay For Life events allow the ACS to attack cancer in dozens of ways, each of them critical to achieving a world without cancer – from developing breakthrough therapies and innovative research, to building supportive communities that come together to help those affected by cancer with access to treatment. The ACS provides empowering resources to deploying activists to raise awareness and develop game-changing approaches to address the cancer burden for all people.           

Local cancer survivor understand first-hand how vital access to treatment is. As we celebrate our 20th Anniversary of Relay For Life in Hollister we would like to stress the importance of Cancer prevention, early detection through timely cancer screenings.           

Founded by Dr. Gordy Klatt in Tacoma, Washington, in 1985, the Relay For Life movement of 3.5 million participants across the world unite at more than 4,500 events to celebrate people who have been touched by cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action for lifesaving change. Symbolizing the battle waged around the clock by those facing cancer, the event can last up to 24 hours and empowers communities to take a stand against cancer. Since 1985, Relay For Life events in the U.S. have raised more than $6.3 billion.           

Last year, Relay For Life of San Benito County raised $116,600 thanks to the support of our community, our sponsors Pullin for Cure, Harvest Hope for a Cure, Oak Hill Ranch in memory of Michele Krone, GC Farms & Pacific Scientific.       

The Relay For Life of San Benito County is supported by many local businesses and organizations. This year’s sponsors include: The Annual Pullin for a Cure, and Harvest Hope for a Cure events, as well as Oak Hill Ranch in Memory of Michele Krone, Taylor Farms and The Pura Family among others. Together, we can beat our biggest rival. Join or donate to the Relay For Life of San Benito County. Visit RelayForLife.org/SanBenitoCountyCA