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Dog Day Fundraiser Benefits Relay
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Already having surpassed their fundraising goal, teams in the inaugural Escalon Relay For Life are still going strong with fundraising efforts and are making final preparations for the June 4 and 5 event at Escalon High School.

"We're a 'baby' Relay so our goal was 24 teams, 24 survivors and $24,000," said Event Chair Jeff Fernandes. "We already have $26,800 raised."

That doesn't count the money that teams will turn in just prior to the event or the onsite fundraising done during Relay weekend.

"I think it's going to be a huge turnout," Fernandes added of Escalon's first Relay.

Excitement is building, he said, with more than 20 teams signed up and room for more. Team members take turns walking around the track, signing up for shifts throughout the 24-hour period. Relay For Life is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society and raises money for research, patient services and advocacy and education. The significance of the 24-hour period is because 'cancer never sleeps.'

Teams have done many fundraisers leading up to the actual Relay and the next one is coming up on Saturday, when the Beauty and the Breast team hosts a special dog show in the city's Main Street Park. Categories will include tallest, smallest, best trick, best dressed and most 'blinged' out.

Entry fee per dog is $25, with the proceeds going to the Beauty and the Breast team for their Relay effort.

"We are also doing a Peoples Choice Top Dog award, this award will be presented to the dog with the most overall votes, each vote will cost $1 and the dog who raises the most money walks away with a prize," added team member Maggie Martinez.

Vendors with dog-related products can also attend, with a table provided for a $20 fee (also benefiting Relay For Life) to display their information and offer products. Martinez said Escalon Feed is already planning to be on hand, offering a drawing for a one-year supply of Iams dog food, and will be handing out samples at the event as well.

The Saturday, May 14 dog show in the park is slated from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, contact Martinez at 838-3561.

Also upcoming is a special committee meeting on Tuesday, May 17 at 6 p.m. at the Escalon Ambulance station, 1480 Ullrey.

"It's going to be kind of like a dry run," Fernandes explained.

Committee members will review what will be happening at the Relay throughout the 24 hours, from the set up early Saturday morning, June 4 to the opening ceremonies, entertainment, an afternoon balloon release, evening luminaria ceremony and overnight activities.

The final committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 at 6 p.m. at the ambulance station, with the last team/team captain meeting that night at 7:30 p.m.

"We already have over 200 people registered and just our online fundraising alone, we're at $15,714," Fernandes said Monday, excited that things are coming together well.

An added bit of excitement for all, co-chair Josh Huebner - diagnosed with cancer in mid-December - completed several rounds of chemotherapy and was declared cancer free at his recent check up.

Photos of cancer survivors and those who lost their battle with the disease are also still needed to be part of the luminaria ceremony on Saturday evening. Photos, with information including the name of the person and the type of cancer, can be sent Megan McNinch, care of D'Boni's Pizza, P.O. Box 183, Escalon, CA 95320. D'Boni's is just one of the local businesses with a team in the event.

Pictures will be scanned in for the slide show and can be returned.

Anyone interested in taking part, either as a sponsor, team member, or just to come and support teams and survivors the day of the event can contact Fernandes at 595-4192.