Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Relay for Life: The battle against cancer unites many

LAKE COUNTY – The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life Lake County has 45 teams with one to 20 members per team, 24 committee chairs plus committee members. These volunteers come from all over Lake County. Also involved are musicians, dancers, vocalists and performers who have donated their time and talents for the continuous free entertainment at the relay.


There are many reasons for involvement in this event.

This is event chair Beth Berinti's fifth year doing relay. Berinti is a cancer survivor from Lucerne. She was on a team her first year, has been a team captain for four years, a committee chair for four years, last year and this year as event chair.


"Once you've participated in a Relay event, you just want to continue,” Berinti said. “I lost my mom to cancer and most recently, my cousin, Dave Fesmire, which makes this Relay more poignant."


Charwin Ward, with Broken Ground, a band that is playing at the relay on Saturday, May 17, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., lives in Spring Valley. One band member lives in Sacramento. Ward heard about Relay from Sally Lusinger and wanted to volunteer.


"I lost my mother to cancer when I was 13 years old,” Ward said. “When I heard about Relay, I wanted to be a part of it. The whole band is willing to support Relay."


Sally Owens from Lakeport has been participating in Relay since her husband, Don, passed away from cancer six years ago. Don Owens was the principal of Clear Lake High School and the stadium is named after him. Her mother-in-law is a 20-year cancer survivor.


"The reason I support Relay is to help with research so our children will never have to experience this disease,” she said. She'll be walking for two teams this year.


Entertainment chair Naomi Wheelan from Kelseyville has participated in Relay for seven years. She heard about it from her sister who is involved in Napa's Relay. Wheelan became a team captain with Americorp her first year and has had her own team of family and friends since. She has been entertainment chair for six years.


"I have lost family members and close friends to cancer but every year that I hear of someone who has lost the battle to cancer, I hear of someone who has beat cancer,” she said. “Once you get involved you do whatever you can and there's plenty to do. We do make a difference."


Cobb resident David Neft, who has a business in Middletown, is volunteering his musical talent and time for the third year. Neft accompanies the National Anthem singer, Shelly Mascari from Middletown, and plays for the heartwarming Survivor's Lap at the 10 a.m. Opening Celebration Ceremony. Neft also will entertain us with his jazzy piano selections from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.


Neft has close friends and relatives who have been touched by cancer. "I feel that there is no other place we should be that day,” he said. “We need to donate what ever energy and talents we have to this event. If people only knew that you gain much more than you could ever give by joining the Relay family."


Relay For Life supports programs right here in Lake County. One is Road To Recovery where volunteer drivers take people to and from treatments and appointments.


Deanne Dale of Lakeport is a driver. She got involved when, as a new resident, she needed someone to drive her to and from an important appointment. She said, "I didn't know anyone that well and figured there were other people that might need someone to drive them, also. I heard about Road To Recovery and volunteered."


Most every person has been touched by cancer in some way, and participating in Relay For Life is a way of "fighting back" against this disease.

There have been all types of fundraisers prior to Relay and there will be raffles, auctions, items for sale and other fundraising events at Relay.

Free entertainment starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 17, with the Celebration Ceremony including the Survivor's Lap. Pastor Shannon Kimball-Auth will do the invocation and the flag ceremony will be performed by the Boy Scouts of Kelseyville Troop 45.

Performers for all day Saturday and for Sunday morning are Shelly Mascari, David Neft, DJ Ken Steely and Groove Crew, Kelseyville High School Jazz Combo, Twice As Good, Antoinette School Of Dance, Open Mic at Cafe Victoria's emceed by Phil Mathewson, Sweet Adelines, Irma and Luis, Broken Ground, Hamed Hokamzedeh and Lefty. There will be karaoke contests with DJ Lori Steely with finals and awards on Sunday morning.


There will also be theme laps where relayers dress in styles from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.


Come join us in supporting Relay For Life Lake County on May 17 and May 18 at Don Owens Stadium, Clear Lake High School, 350 Lange St., Lakeport.


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