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Pacesetter - Challenge Met At Escalon Relay
Survivors carry the banner as they lead the way in the Escalon Relay For Life on Saturday morning, starting the 24-hour event with a lap around the track. See additional photos on Page A2. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times


With just about 15 minutes to go before closing ceremonies on Sunday morning, word came down from the accounting booth that Escalon’s fourth annual Relay For Life was $350 short of its financial goal. A challenge was made to those on site for the event at Escalon High School and, less than five minutes later, $393 had been collected, helping meet the goal for the American Cancer Society event.

By the time closing ceremonies arrived at 8:30 a.m., a total of $500 had been raised, pushing the fourth annual Relay $150 past its $46,000 goal.

The final last-minute fundraising flurry, with people emptying out their pockets and running home to write checks to ACS, helped wrap up a hugely successful event. A full 24 hours of teams walking the track, raising money, enjoying a variety of entertainment and activities, theme laps, food and fun, the fourth annual Relay was one to remember.

The weather especially cooperated, officials said, with warm but not overly hot temperatures for Saturday along with a steady breeze. Sunday proved to be a hotter day, but with closing ceremonies and a final lap at 9 a.m., teams were out of the sun by mid-morning. The 2014 Escalon Relay For Life earned a Pacesetter award for reaching several specific goals.

Top fundraising teams were Nuts For Life, at more than $9,500; Team Courageous, over $7,700 and Saron Lutheran Church – Spirit of Saron, raising more than $7,200 for the fight against cancer.

As far as individuals, Sandy Bomer was the top fundraiser, accounting for over $5,600 by herself. Janet Van Vliet was second at more than $2,600 and Ken Cullum third, raising more than $1,600.

A new Spirit of Relay ceremony also saluted teams and participants, with The Superhero Squad voted the Most Spirited, Jungle Warriors taking the Best Decorated Campsite Award.

Co-chairing the Relay this year were Teresa and Arianna Kennedy, who are on the Wings of Hope team, relaying in memory of Teresa’s sister, Crystal Pearce Wendland.

The goal of Relay is to raise both money and awareness in the fight against cancer and teams were dedicated to both this year. Each team had a ‘Fight Back’ message at its campsite, informing fellow relayers about the various types of cancer, causes, treatments and preventive measures.

Survivors were honored guests, starting off the Relay on Saturday morning with their first lap, applauded by teams circling the track, and treated to dinner on Saturday evening.

Along the way, there were virtually non-stop activities and each team also offered its on-site fundraiser, ranging from food to gift baskets to craft projects, bead ‘lap’ necklaces to lap Bingo.

Teams included Escalon Lions Club – which also served breakfast for all participants on Saturday – Jungle Warriors, Dance Angels, Wings of Hope, Escalon High School, Cougar Town, Enterprise 4-H Kids 4 a Cure, Cancerous Suckitous, Nuts For Life, Escalon Sunrise Rotary, The Superhero Squad, Saron Lutheran Church, Team Courageous, Connie’s Crusaders, Dolce Cielo Salon and Cancer Stampers.

Asked about what she enjoyed about Relay, 8-year cancer survivor Arlene Craig was simple and to the point: “Everything.”

She enjoyed her dinner, while getting a team shirt, and said she also does her time on track.

For Lizzi and Tina Langum, leaders of the Enterprise 4-H team, this year had even more meaning, as one of their team members is going through cancer treatment right now and couldn’t attend the event.

A balloon release on Saturday evening, the luminaria ceremony at dusk, and the lighting of the luminaria bags circling the track helped provide a quiet transition to the overnight walking hours. On Sunday, the final fundraising flurry was followed by the closing ceremonies.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without you guys,” Arianna Kennedy said in congratulating the teams for their hard work.

“We had a small committee,” added Teresa Kennedy, “But we had the best committee, everybody was amazing.”

And with more than $46,000 raised, reaching its goal, the Escalon 2014 Relay For Life was pretty amazing as well.