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Posted on Jul 11, 2016

Relay gives hope to people touched by cancer

The entire field at Jaycee Stadium is dark, except for tiny lights along the edge of the track.
The biggest source of light, comes from hope. And this is not a metaphor.
Tiny lights on the bleachers spell out HOPE in big block letters.

Joining in the Relay for Life, from the left, were Lynette Meek, Mike Stutzman, Selia Hernandez and Delilah Villafana. Photos by Sebastian Moraga.

Joining in the Relay for Life, from the left, were Lynette Meek, Mike Stutzman, Selia Hernandez and Delilah Villafana. Photos by Sebastian Moraga.

So perhaps that way, everyone at the stadium celebrating the annual Relay For Life can feel what it’s like to be guided only by hope, as many cancer-stricken men and women and children have done.
This year’s fundraiser started at 5 p.m. June 25 and it lasted until midnight.
The lights circling the track set inside paper bags; these are the fabled luminaries that pay tribute to cancer victims and survivors. Each bag carries a message, in addition to the light. Messages of optimism (“Cancer fears the Cruzers”), messages of tribute (“Luis Alberto Ugalde”) and messages of remembrance (“We miss you, Grandpa”).
For hours people laugh, pray, cry, talk and eat as they walk the Jaycee Stadium track. When the evening turns into night, the light towers go dark and all that can be seen are the smokestacks in the distance, the American flag at one end, and the spelled out letters on the bleachers. First, “HOPE,” and then later, “CURE.”
Attendance was better last year, some of the walkers say. No matter, the flip-flop of rubber on track continues regardless of how dark it gets. Glow sticks serve as flashlights for some of the people walking. The date may have conspired against bringing more people. (A softball tournament and concert at the Gorge Amphitheatre occured on the same day.)
“It’s getting smaller and smaller every year,” Cristina Urbano said of the turnout. Still, she and a handful of relatives show up every year. Nothing corporate, no sponsors, she said, just a family paying tribute to those who fight the battle and those who lost the battle, their grandpa included.
The occasion may be serious, but that doesn’t mean one can’t have a little bit of fun.
A group of Quincy teenagers from Youth Action, a community service club, showed up to Relay for Life as well, but wearing animal motifs.
Grecia Orozco wore a panda hat and outfit. For Angelica Morales it was cat ears. And Luis Camacho wore a kangaroo outfit. Camacho showed up decked head to toe in orange felt, complete with pouch and mini kangaroo sticking out from it.
“I picked the kangaroo (costume),” Camacho said, tugging at the ears of the joey in front of his stomach. “Mostly because it came with the little guy.”
Silly costumes aside, the group also brought a serious purpose to the event. Friend Jorge Romero’s mother has battled cancer, twice.
“I’m happy to be here doing something that can help change the community,” Orozco said.


— By Sebastian Moraga,

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