Build a Team for Cancer Society's Relay for Life

Relay for Life, the annual cancer fundraiser, is a fun-packed, 24-hour community block party. It also has a serious side, described by the American Cancer Society as "a time and place where people come to celebrate those who have survived cancer, remember those we've lost, and fight back against a disease that touches too many lives."

This year, the third annual Pleasanton Relay for Life will take place from 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 26, to 9 a.m. Sunday, July 27, on the sports field at the Pleasanton Middle School. John DeKoven, well known as the comic behind Laugh-A-Lot Productions, is the Team Development Chairperson for the event, and he is ambitiously looking to grow the number of teams on the relay roster.

Teams, he explains, typically consist of six to 15 people who join forces to do their own fundraising - through bake sales, a car wash, or even personal donations - before the relay. The teams all come together on July 26 for the communal event, where the goal is to have a member from each team walking around the track throughout the entire 24-hour period. (The larger the team, the less walking per individual, DeKoven points out.) In the meantime, a variety of creative activities, from live entertainment and decorating contests to a midnight movie and commemorative observances, keeps the teams and their supporters busy and engaged. Themed laps are a big crowd-pleaser: some are run backwards, others in crazy costumes. Another favorite is the scrabble challenge, in which participants try to form words out of letters awarded after each lap.

Especially powerful are the opening ceremony, when cancer survivors run the inaugural lap, and the Luminaria, dedicated in honor of cancer victims, whose names are read one by one as light sticks are turned on at 9 p.m.

DeKoven started recruiting relay teams a few months ago, and even though he has surpassed 2007 numbers, he still hasn't reached his target. "Right now we have 30 teams signed up. When we reach 40, we will have doubled from last year. We still have a few months to hit that mark," he relates.

The team-building campaign got a boost a few weeks ago when volunteers turned downtown Pleasanton into "May Day for Relay." Purple ribbons draped around Main Street's trees reminded community residents that it's time to form and register their teams. Emphasizing that no minimal contribution is required, DeKoven encourages Hacienda businesses to mount their own team-building initiatives, joining in the fight and the fun.

For details on the relay and to form your own team, go to . Online donations can be made at , For more information, email DeKoven at .

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