Saturday and Sunday’s 15th Annual Relay for Life at Isbell Middle School attracted a large crowd with one goal: support for the American Cancer Society’s fight against the disease! Above cancer survivors walk the first lap of the Relay for Life.

Relay for Life: Honoring Cancer Survivors

May 06, 2016
Relay for Life: Cancer on the run from those devoted to the fight
Santa Paula News

Almost two-dozen teams circled the track for 24 hours to show that although “Cancer Never Sleeps” neither will they until a cure is found. Proceeds from the event benefit various American Cancer Society programs and activities.

Relay teams and supporters enjoyed music, food and camaraderie in their determination that cancer can — and must — be fought with love, support and of course donations to carry on the fight.

Mayor Martin Hernandez thanked the crowd for “Honoring your loved ones…”

“I’m so proud to call Santa Paula my home,” said Vice Mayor Jenny Crosswhite. “I feel that each and every one of you is my friend and we’ve all been touched in some way by cancer. We are a part of one another…”

Councilman John Procter, who has served as Relay chairman in the past, noted the event “Is a great way to honor my mother,” that did not survive her bout with cancer, as well as the survivors.

Bob Orlando, also a former chair of the event, has been involved with Santa Paula’s Relay for 15 years and before that Oxnard’s but it was his wife Becci who was drawing admiring glances.

“I blinged out my Relay T-shirt,” that sparkled with her embellishments but Bob garnered attention of his own when he removed his hat showing the ribbon bow symbol of overcoming cancer on top of his head. 

Kaz Iwamoto of the ACS Cancer Network said he would be taking Luminaires to Washington, D.C. for lighting and send photos to donors.

Chairman John Marquez said the Santa Paula Relay broke $1 million at its 12-year mark and Ventura County is in the top 10 in the nation when it comes to per capita fundraising. 

Bob Orlando presented an award to Debbie and Don Johnson, Honorary Chairs of the Relay, and offered kudos to their Santa Paula Times newspaper. 

“The Johnsons have offered Relay unselfish support, quite lovely support that deserves more than our gratitude,” said Orlando who noted the couple was recently honored as Santa Paula Citizens of the Year for devotion to community.

He also thanked Brian Wilson and Peggy Kelly for their Relay support. 

“We totally support Relay for Life,” said Debbie as Don, no stranger to cancer, prepared to take photos of the Survivors Lap that officially starts Relay weekend. 

Marquez said there were 23 teams participating in the Relay with 254 registered; that number would grow through the day. 

“We’ll probably get another 100 that will show up and register,” for the event. 

Netti Farrar was announcing Relay special events from the stage ranging from the $3 Wedding Chapel — “We don’t have a divorce chapel,” she noted — to a Photo Booth; Tisa Grant was on hand offering hair or makeup beautification to participants for a Relay donation.

Marquez noted that after serving as Relay Chair since 2012 Farrar would step up: “They’re putting me out for stud after four years,” he grinned. “I’ll be her co-chair…”

“A Survivor’s Celebration” featured Linda Knowles who spoke of her experience with cancer, from the “devastating” diagnosis through treatment with stops in between to comfort a friend no longer able to withstand the disease.

The latter was a final visit Knowles rushed to as soon as her own first chemotherapy session was over.

“I’ve lost my mother, my grandmother and my best friend,” to the disease, and she added, “I may have cancer but it doesn’t have me.” 

A favorite of the event is Hero to Hero, Santa Paula Fire Fighters placing medallions around the necks of survivors before they walk the lap dedicated to their health victory.

“We really enjoy this part of the program,” said SPFD Captain Austin Macias.

Although he did not mention it, Macias’ mother was lost due to cancer.

Farrar said she started participating in Relays in Fillmore to support members of her husband’s family and last year became involved in Santa Paula’s.

“I’m shadowing John so I can learn the ropes,” to lead next year’s event.

Relay for Life draws various supporters including caregivers such as Jane Lax who has attended various events.

Although Caitlin Barringer has attended other Relays, this was the first as the newly appointed ARC Community Manager for Santa Paula, Fillmore, Port Hueneme and Oxnard. 

A city native, Barringer attended Relays when they were held at Santa Paula High School, “but this is the first I have organized…I love the American Cancer Society, it’s a great organization. And the Relay is really fun, exhausting but fun!”

Teams kept moving for 24 hours with live entertainment to keep them on their feet: Johnny & The Love Handles, Juano & Sons, Herbal Kootz, Shades of Canela and DJ Steve Perez kept the music coming. 

Wigs for Kids Right photo Jazmine Magaña, 8 years old, stopped by Tisa’s Salon & Spa booth during the Relay for Life to have her cut so she could donate it to Wigs for Kids. Jazmine is the daughter of Mayela Magaña. Jasmine goes to Grace Thille School. Jasmine holds her hair that Tisa Grant had just cut.

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