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Turlock and Hilmar prepare to relay for a cure
relay pic4
Turlocks Relay For Life event will begin at 8:30 a.m. on April 30 at Dutcher Middle School this year. - photo by Journal file photo

The battle against cancer is something that affects many people, and every year hundreds of community members come together through Relay For Life to raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from the terrible disease. This year, Hilmar and Turlock will host their own community fundraising walks to help find a cure.


Relay For Life is an American Cancer Society event that is celebrated all over the world, with four million people in 20 different countries taking part annually. To date, the worldwide phenomenon has raised nearly $5 billion to aid in the fight for a cure.


Teams camp out at a school, park or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Because cancer never sleeps, events are overnight and up to 24 hours long with at least one participant from each team on the track at all times.


Each team participates in fundraising in the months leading up to the event. Teams are typically made up of volunteers from businesses, groups of friends or families that wish to honor a loved one who has suffered from cancer. Additionally Turlock High School and Pitman High School have relay teams as well.


As of Tuesday, Relay For Life of Hilmar has raised approximately $58,000 between its 15 teams thus far. The Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc. team led by Karessa Mast leads all Hilmar teams with over $17,500 raised. Shirley Coelho of team Bosom Buddies has singlehandedly generated $8,100 worth of funds that will go toward finding a cure.


So far, $20,113 has been raised between the 39 Relay For Life of Turlock teams.Chris Mizicko’s team Diggin’ 4 a Cure leads the fundraising with over $3,000 raised.


According to Relay For Life of Turlock Event Chair Judy Jespersen, the community outpour for this year’s event exceeds that of last year. With the economy on the rise, she believes it’s easier on community members to donate both their time and money to the cause in a visible way.


“Relay For Life gives people a local way to get together to mourn those they have lost and to celebrate survivors,” said Jespersen. “You feel like you’re doing something to help. Just writing a check – you don’t get a return from that. You’re getting to the people’s hearts, not their checkbook.”


Relay For Life of Hilmar will kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday at Hilmar High School. Turlock’s Relay For Life event will begin at 8:30 a.m. on April 30 at Dutcher Middle School with Mayor Gary Soiseth emceeing the opening festivities.