Relay for Life: It’s not a race

Planners to debunk fiction around the cancer event
By: Lien Hoang, The Press Tribune
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The name notwithstanding, Relay for Life is not a race, unlike so many 5Ks and other disease-related fundraising efforts. That’s one of the many misconceptions to be cleared up at an upcoming rally thrown by Relay for Life Roseville. Organizers hope the rally – 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at Woodcreek High School Theatre – will clarify and boost participation for the relay itself, to be held April 16. “We really want people to come to the rally having no clue what the relay is, because they’re going to leave knowing what it is,” said Diane Kidwell, who is in charge of team development for Relay for Life Roseville. A few years ago she convinced friend Natalie Mixon to join and eventually become the event chair. “We had rallies in the past, and they were kind of hard to understand,” Mixon said. “Until someone experiences a relay it’s hard to explain it to them.” What organizers want the public to know is that Relay is the American Cancer Society’s top fundraiser. Hundreds of cities around the world have adopted their own Relays. During the event itself, teams of up to 24 people set up camp on a designated site. For Roseville this year, that’ll be Woodcreek. They take turns walking laps around a track for 24 hours because “cancer doesn’t sleep,” Mixon said, quoting an organization mantra. The arrangement also takes participants out of their comfort zones, further from the everyday conveniences cancer patients can no longer take for granted. Some teams raise money without showing up to the relay. Others dress up in group themes, such as athletic teams or Hawaiian. Food and jump houses round out the day. “I don’t want to say it’s like a carnival atmosphere, but it’s very fun, very lively,” Mixon said. “You really have to experience it.” To convey that experience to newcomers, rally planners will present slideshows and videos of the camp, as well as give out Relay shirts, mugs, keychains and other prizes. With a discounted registration price of $11 – rather than $50-$100 – they hope to attract 100 teams, compared with 52 in 2010. The teams often represent local organizations. Most of the money raised toward a $120,000 goal in Roseville will benefit local cancer patients. A top recipient is the Road to Recovery, which provides patients transportation to and from treatment. Many cities in the Sacramento region have their own Relays. Rather than combine efforts, Mixon said the separate subsidiaries keep work manageable and give volunteers a stake in their respective communities. Erica Bakeman oversees five such cities, including Roseville, as their staff partner at the American Cancer Society. “Roseville is an exciting community to work with because they have a lot of energy,” Bakeman said. From garage sales to car washes, Relay for Life Roseville conducts a number of benefits throughout the year, but the relay is by far the largest. Mixon, whose mother died of breast cancer, said everyone involved has known a life claimed by cancer. “It’s a personal problem, and it’s a community problem,” she said. Lien Hoang can be reached at ---------- Relay for Life rally WHAT: Informational hour to explain Relay with video and prizes WHEN: 7 p.m. Jan. 11 WHERE: Woodcreek High School Theatre, 2551 Woodcreek Oaks Blvd. INFO:, or