When the community of Hilmar decides to support a cause, they go all in. And that’s exactly what happened on Saturday, said Kelly Fultz, chairperson of Hilmar’s first-ever Relay for Life event.
Over 900 walkers filled the Hilmar High School track for 24 hours on Saturday, showing their support for local cancer survivors and raising money to fund research and services through the American Cancer Society.
While Relay for Life has been around since 1986, as the overnight relay-style event made up of teams whose members take turns walking around a track for 24 hours straight and raise money for the American Cancer Society, this was the first time the community of Hilmar hosted its own relay.
“Hilmar is just an amazing community itself and when someone backs something, the whole community gets involved,” Fultz said.
Hilmar shined in its first time around the track. According to Fultz, the American Cancer Society sets the goal for “baby relay” events of signing up 20 teams, having 20 cancer survivors participate in the event and raising $20,000. On Saturday, 48 teams signed in for the Hilmar Relay for Life, including 909 participants; 125 cancer survivors kicked off the event by walking the Survivors Lap; and $181,150 was raised, as of Tuesday.
“Our community always wants to help, if it can,” Fultz said.
The top three money raising teams were: Bosom Buddies, with team captain Barbara Matheron, raising over $30,000; Hilmar Cheese, with team captain Marion Camacho, raising over $23,000; and Brat Pack — a team comprised of mainly kids under the age of 12 — with team captain Landon Armonde, raising over $16,000.
The impressive efforts in fundraising were just one element that made the inaugural Hilmar Relay for Life event such a success, said Fultz.
“Seeing that track go from being a muddy mess into a huge event was amazing,” she said, as was seeing so many cancer survivors in the community come out for the Survivors Lap.
“At 3 a.m. I was sitting in the announcer’s booth, and just seeing the people walking, seeing the dedication, it was pretty cool,” said Fultz.