Relay for Life begins Saturday

Relay for Life begins SaturdayBy CHRISTINA MACGREGOR

News Review Staff Writer

The 18th annual Ridgecrest Relay for Life will be held this weekend at Cerro Coso Community College track, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday and ending at 9 a.m. Sunday.

“Unfortunately, it’s really hard to meet someone who hasn’t been touched by cancer — whether it’s themselves, a loved one or a friend,” said Jamie Brickey Powell, community manager for the local relay. Each year hundreds of residents come together to raise funds and awareness for the cause.

“Every dollar raised is that one step closer to finding a cure.”

The event begins with an opening ceremony, then kicks off with the survivor lap and caregiver lap. After that, others can take their turns in the relay. From that point on, each team will have one people walking or running on the track at all times, to illustrate the point that :cancer never sleeps.”

The event begins with an opening ceremony, then kicks off with the survivor lap and caregiver lap. After that, others can take their turns in the relay. From that point on, each team will have one person walking or running on the track at all times, to illustrate the point that :cancer never sleeps.”

The event will include vendors offering products and services, food, games, live bands and a luminaria ceremony. All of the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society for research and in hopes of aiding cancer patients and their families with the costs surrounding their treatments.

“The theme for this year’s event is a game-board theme, so there’s one team that has a bunch of board games where kids and adults can pay a donation, and then they can come in their campsite and just play games,” said Brickey Powell.

“People can also sign up just as individual participants and come out at any point and walk and visit the different campsites and teams that are having fundraisers going on. Survivors can come as well. In the morning, during our opening ceremonies, we have a recognition and laps for them.”

Though registration can happen online or beforehand, survivors can fill out forms on the day of the event.

“They can come and sign up online or beforehand, or they can come out and fill out (forms) with good old pen and paper [the day of the event] in our survivor tent,” said Brickey Powell, “There are endless ways that people can come out and participate.”

Although the relay is the culmination of the fund-raiser, some teams spend months leading up to the event raising money through yard sales, drawings, arts and crafts events, bake sales, movie parties, car shows, concerts and much more.

“Any participants that fundraise $100 earn our event T-shirt. We encourage teams to raise a minimum of $1,000, which almost all of our teams end up doing,” said Brickey Powell.

“Our event leadership team has the goal of reaching $100,000 this year. [They] are always striving to beat themselves from the years past. Last year we made $89,000. Right now we are sitting at $53,500.”

Brickey Powell said that major sponsors include Ridgecrest Regional Hospital, which donated $10,000. The Elks Lodge of Ridgecrest donated $6,500 and DCS Corporation donated another $2,000. “There’s a lot more, but those are some of our biggest sponsors.”

Brickey Powell has been the community manager for the local relay for life for almost five years, and her involvement with the relay dates even further back.

During our first event in 1999, Brickey Powell and her mother were asked to join a friend’s team. Even though she was only a freshman in high school, Brickey Powell was touched by the event.

She and her mother decided to make their own family team the following year. After that year, and many more years of participating in the event, the position for the community manager opened up.

“I applied, and that’s where we are today,” said Brickey Powell.

She noted that her mom’s melanoma cancer 20 years ago was a big motivator for her to take part in the event. And just a few months ago, her mother had another spot diagnosed that she had surgery on. “Everything is great now, and all clear, but you just never know … you never know when it is going to come again.”

One of Brickey Powell’s favorite moments in the event is the luminaria ceremony, which will happen at 8 p.m. on Saturday evening. People can purchase bags for the ceremony online or at the event. The bags come blank or pre-decorated, and are $10 a bag.

Brickey Powell called the luminaria event “a gorgeous ceremony that happens onstage, and they turn off all of the lights around the track, so that it is just illuminated by the bags.

“I would say that if someone has never been to the relay, that is the time to come, because it is the most moving ceremony, and you will be hooked from then on.”

Part of the reason the luminaria mean so much to Brickey Powell is because they remind her of all of those who have had cancer in their lives or in the lives of loved ones.

“At some point, I hope that we just have an event where we get to celebrate all of our survivors, not looking for the cure anymore. We are all just having a party because we all had a hand in the end of cancer.”

The funds raised by the event help a variety of programs, including rides to and from treatments and a “look and feel better” program that offers free wigs and a beauty classes to women going through treatment.

The Relay for Life draws participation from 5,200 communities and 27 countries, each of which host similar events to show solidarity with the cancer patients, survivors, and those who have died and also to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

For information, visit relayforlife.org/ridgecrestca.

Pictured: Survivors and their caregivers carry on the tradition of kicking-off the 24-hour-event by walking the first lap. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-09-29