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Escalon Joins In Relay For Life
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From walking the track to serving up some of the entertainment, Escalon residents took part in the weekend's Relay For Life American Cancer Society fundraiser in neighboring Oakdale.

More than $222,000 was raised as teams took to the track for the 24-hour event. At least one person from each team had to be on the track at all times and teams also offered a variety of different activities and raffles at their booths to raise additional funds. (See photos, Page A2.)

Cancer survivors start the event off with their lap, following opening ceremonies and the release of doves, and then caregivers join in the second lap, with all team members joining them the third time around the track.

A track set up on the old baseball field at Oakdale High School served as the focal point for the Saturday and Sunday event, while more than 75 teams gathered for the 24-hour fundraiser.

Musical entertainment during the course of the relay included The Taillights, led by Escalon resident Mark Macsenti, Steadfast Heart, Don Glor - husband of Learning Tree co-owner Val Vesia Glor - and early morning music on Sunday by the tandem of Barb Findlay and Jim Ramont. Findlay was a vocal performer with the popular group Remedy when they took the stage for Park Fete in July. Shannon Duncan, a performer in Steadfast Heart, also sang with Remedy for the fete.

Among the many teams, some Escalon residents served as team captains while others took their turn walking the track as team members and running the booths.

Members of the Racing for a Cure team, locals Stacie Keyser and Janet Nickerson, were enjoying a Saturday late night-early morning Sunday shift on the track, looking at the luminaria bags containing a candle to light the way for walkers overnight. The bags can be purchased in honor of a survivor or in memory of someone who lost the fight to cancer.

Bags honored cancer survivors Liz Lee and Andy Dugo, among others from Escalon, while a couple of bags also remembered the late Brenda Caton, who passed away after a battle with the disease.

A special part of the Relay For Life this year was the running of the CPS-3, Cancer Prevention Study-3, in which participants will receive questionnaires every few years to chart their lifestyle and health, helping to further research efforts for the prevention of cancer. Over 200 people registered for the study at the Oakdale event.

Longtime Escalon resident Delores Grabow, whose daughter Pam works for the American Cancer Society, was on a team with Pam and son-in-law Kevin Benziger, 'Believing For a Cure.'

"We rope her into this one, and she ropes us into hers," Kevin said, noting that Delores also takes part in a Stockton relay at the end of June.

Escalon will have a team in the Manteca Relay For Life, being put on at Sierra High School this coming weekend, with the team being sponsored by Pizza Plus and made up primarily of Escalon High students. Mentor for the group is teacher Rick Heflin.

"We'll have about 24 kids," he said. "We took a one year break last year, but this year we're doing it again."

The Oakdale event had financial backing from a number of sponsors, at various levels, including several from Escalon, among them Escalon Dental and Orthodontics and Escalon Lions Club.