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June Relay Scheduled
Plans are well under way for Escalon's inaugural Relay For Life through the American Cancer Society, with the event slated for June 4 and 5, 2011 at Escalon High School.

Event chairperson Jeff Fernandes said they are still looking for committee members and are actively recruiting teams. A booth for Relay set up at the recent Christmas on Main event resulted in several survivors signing up to participate along with a few new teams committing to take part.

"Our goal is 25 teams," said Fernandes, noting that they are almost halfway there.

The committee, which plans the event, will meet tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 15 at the Escalon Library on Second Street. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and anyone interested in learning more about Relay or getting involved is welcome to attend.

American Cancer Society staffer Sheila Doberenz is Escalon's liaison for the June event and said she is excited about bringing a Relay to the community.

"I think the word is out there," Doberenz said of residents learning that Relay is coming.

Not only was there a booth at the Christmas on Main, but the ACS had representatives at a recent Chamber of Commerce mixer and Doberenz said word of mouth is also helping.

"We are really going to hit it hard in January," she said of getting ready for a media blitz after the first of the year. "Our team goal for a baby relay is 25 teams and $25,000. Hopefully, we'll go over that."

Many Escalon residents have been involved with the Relay For Life over the years, participating in neighboring communities including Manteca and Oakdale. Fernandes was inspired to help bring one to Escalon when he participated in the Oakdale Relay.

Fernandes said part of his motivation was the fact that cancer can strike anyone at any time.

"The first meeting we had, I knew we were all doing this to help other people but I said, I'm not guaranteed (to not get cancer), you're not guaranteed ..."

Cancer survivors are special guests at Relays throughout the region, with the goal also to raise money for research and patient services. Many survivors also get involved, serving on committees or as team captains or members.

The committee meets every third Wednesday of the month and team captain meetings will be the fourth Wednesday of the month starting in January.

Fernandes said a recent fundraiser through the Stockton Thunder hockey team was successful and they hope to do another one later this season. Other events prior to the actual Relay will also help raise funds and there are multiple committees involved in putting on the event, from food to entertainment, team development to survivorship.

"We're still looking for volunteers," Fernandes said.

Doberenz added that the excitement she has seen so far bodes well for a successful event.

"It's nice to see a small town come together," she said.