In their sixth year of participation in Relay For Life of Escalon, the Wings of Hope team is ready for another busy 24 hours.
Team captain Teresa Kennedy said the team was started in memory of her sister, Crystal Pearce Wendland, who lost her battle with cancer in 2006 and the team is made up primarily of family members and close friends.
“I was a team captain the first year and for the last five years I have been on the committee,” Kennedy explained.
But the Escalon event wasn’t the family’s first introduction to the American Cancer Society’s signature event.
Kennedy’s daughter Arianna and nephew Taylor Hawkins were the first to participate.
“They were involved in it in Manteca when they were in high school; that was really close to after my sister passed away,” Kennedy explained. “We had thought about it, being involved as a family, we threw it around for a while, and then when it came to Escalon, we just decided to do it.”
Along with Teresa as the team captain, other siblings are involved as well. Her sister Deborah Hawkins participates along with their brother Jeff Pearce, who lives in Escalon. Brother Greg Pearce, who lives in North Carolina, was able to attend a couple of years ago.
“It’s pretty much family, the majority are family members and we have good friends that have also joined the team,” said Kennedy.
Escalon’s Relay is fast approaching, set for Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26 on the football field at Escalon High School. A dozen teams have raised over $25,000 so far.
This year’s theme is the Olympics and Wings of Hope has chosen Ireland for its country, Kennedy said, in honor of their mom, who has some Irish roots.
“We are going to be decorating with shamrocks, we might do some other things, we might have something like a green drink,” Kennedy said of working with the Irish-green theme. “We are doing our cornhole tournament again, and we usually sell cookies and milk at night plus we will do Super Nachos again and we sell soda and water.”
Almost everyone on the team stays at Relay for the full 24 hours and they all take turns walking the track and running the booth. Kennedy and her daughter, Arianna, who serves as event chair, pull double duty by working with the committee as well.
Many teams in Escalon’s Relay For Life sport specially designed team shirts and Kennedy said Wings of Hope has had three different styles through the years.
“It’s fun to see all the different shirts,” she said.
As far as the team name, Kennedy said she thought of ‘wings’ for her sister, likening it to angel wings and her memory, while the ‘hope’ is what Relay is all about.
“Hope is what we are there for, hoping we can find that cure,” she explained. “We are raising money, and it is actually going to the research that will find that cure.”
Kennedy said she enjoys working with the committee and being part of a special community effort to wage the battle against cancer, so that more people survive and fewer people are impacted by the disease. She also urged everyone to come out to see the event for themselves on June 25 and 26.
“Everybody is welcome, we want the whole town there, it is for everybody, not just the teams, we want everyone to come out,” Kennedy said. “A bunch of community support this year would be awesome.”
Next week, more profiles of teams in the upcoming Relay For Life.