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Cool Runnings Channels Jamaica
Relay Team Spotlight
Jaclyn Ortiz, right, leads some young dancers in a routine at a previous Relay For Life of Escalon. She returns this year as a team captain and the Entertainment Committee chair, lining up activities and performers to keep the energy going at the June 25-26 event at Escalon High School. Marg Jackson/The Times

With Jamaica as their chosen country for this year’s Olympics theme at the Relay For Life of Escalon, team Cool Runnings will be out on the track in full force on June 25 and 26.

Jaclyn Ortiz is the team captain and she said she just signed up her 24th team member, which will allow for each member to do one hour on the track – more if they want – but they should be covered for the duration of the event at Escalon High School’s football stadium.

“That was my goal,” Ortiz said of getting 24 team members on board for the 2016 event. “Most of my team members are my former dance students, dance moms.”

Ortiz previously ran a dance studio in Escalon. She now teaches privately and brings some of her students to the Relay to perform as well as be on the team.

“The first few years (in Escalon) I was on the Wings of Hope team but then I wanted to expand and have my own,” she explained.

Each team in this year’s Relay is choosing a country to represent and Jamaica was the inspiration for Ortiz. It also provided the team name, based on the movie of the same name that focused on the Jamaican bobsled team.

“My dad is going to make a ‘bobsled’ and we will give rides around the track for a dollar a lap,” Ortiz said of utilizing that as a fundraiser.

The team also will bring back its popular coffee bar, selling coffee early morning and through the night.

“We had so many people last year in the middle of the night looking for coffee,” Ortiz said.

Their onsite Fight Back message will focus on the American Cancer Society’s ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ program and Ortiz is also pulling double duty, serving on the committee as many team captains do.

She is the Entertainment Committee leader and said she does have multiple musical performers and activities planned during the 24 hours of Relay.

“We want to keep people up and having fun,” she said of maintaining a steady flow of activities. One of the team members, in fact, will be teaching a line dancing class in the middle of the night.

“We’re calling it 2-Step at 2 a.m.,” Ortiz said, chuckling.


Next week, another team preview for the 2016 Relay For Life of Escalon.