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MARG-INS A Weekend To Remember
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That occasional fifth Wednesday of the month just throws some people off. That's the week that Riverbank editor John Branch contributes a column and he's happy about that; he only has to write four or five a year, instead of a dozen like the rest of us 'regular' monthly contributors.

So when that fifth one sneaks up, it takes some people by surprise. I was at Dent Elementary School in Escalon the other day on an assignment and one of the staff members corralled me in the cafeteria, wanting to know how come my column wasn't in and how was she supposed to keep up with what was happening in my life if it didn't run? I assured her it was because it was the fifth Wednesday, we gave John his turn and that my column would be in its usual place, the first Wednesday of the month, as in today.

Columns are our way of letting the readers get to know us a little bit. It's the one place we can tell you how we feel about something, give our opinion, tell our side of the story - whatever term you want to give it - because it's a column, not a news story.

So what is happening with me?

Well, the last few months have included lots of time preparing for Oakdale's Relay for Life, which was staged April 26 and 27 at Oakdale High School. Except for a couple of donations from family members, all the money donated to my daughter and I for our 24-hour Relay event came from folks in Escalon. I love the fact that people respond to the need; many city officials, police and fire department personnel know that this is a passion for me and they are there to support my daughter and I in our yearly endeavor. The Friday before Relay I had to cover Escalon softball and, on a whim, grabbed my envelope and 'worked the crowd' in between innings, coming away with another $40 for the cause. For those that don't know about Relay for Life, it's a 24-hour team event that is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Teams gather for a 24-hour period in what can only be described as a carnival-like atmosphere, with special events for cancer survivors, lots of entertainment, booths with a variety of goods to sell, the touching luminaria ceremony and the walkers, with at least one representative from each team on the track at all times. The only break is when the bagpipe player comes in to start the luminaria ceremony; that's when all walking on the track ceases. After the ceremony, walkers resume the journey, their way lit by the glowing luminaria bags dedicated to cancer survivors and honoring those who lost the fight.