On Saturday, April 21, Turlock community members came together to participate in the annual Relay for Life, which was held at Dutcher Middle School this year. The event started at 8:30am on Saturday and continued until 8:30am on Sunday.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life brings together more than 3.5 million people across the nation to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost to the disease, and show support for those who are currently battling the disease. Money raised from the event goes toward helping fight cancer within our community.
This year’s Relay For Life in Turlock raised $169,017, with 70 teams participating, and a total of 1,032 participants.
Each year, top teams are awarded for the amount of money raised to donate towards the American Cancer Society, along with top participants who raised the most money for the event individually.
The three top teams this year include: Mimi’s Team, who raised $17,504, Insure a Cure, who raised $9,504, and Century 21 M and M Associates Realtors for Life, who raised $9,210.
The three top participants awarded were Cindy Starkey ($6,792 raised), Tami Plaa ($2,772 raised), and Elena Gomez ($2,338 raised).
Every year, during the Luminaria Ceremony, the Rebecca Beard Award is handed out to an individual who has gone above and beyond in volunteering for the event by demonstrating dedication and involvement to the event’s cause. Individuals who are given this award are chosen by the Relay for Life committee members.
Rebecca Beard helped bring Relay for Life to Turlock after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. After three long years of battling the disease, Rebecca Beard passed away in the year 2000. She was survived by her daughter Carly, age 9 at the time, her son Zachary, who was 6, and husband, Cameron.
The Luminaria Ceremony occurs at the event each year as the sun goes down. During this ceremony, simple white Luminaria bags are transformed and illuminated after dark at the event. Each bag is personalized with the name, photo, message, or drawing by a Relay for Life participant or sponsor in memory, honor, or support of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer. The bags are placed along the lining of the track, and silence fills the air as participants walk alongside and view the names on each bag.
Rebecca’s daughter, Carly Beard, has presented the Rebecca Beard Award over the past 5 years.
“My mother, Rebecca Beard, channeled her love into such an amazing outlet that has allowed for all of us to be gathered here today,” stated Carly at the event. “My mother may not be here to share this day with us, but she did not leave us empty handed. This event is a far greater gift than any polly pocket or monster truck could ever be.”
“Not only did she provide us with such an amazing support group, but she paved the way for the people of this community to continue to spread awareness and fight to find a cure.”
Carly continued to share her mother’s story of her battle with cancer, and memories she had of her mother, and the loss of her aunt, Rachel LaBoue (Rebecca Beard’s sister), who also died of breast cancer only a few years later.
“I think that everyone grows up hearing about others’ losses and thinks that something like that could never happen to them,” continued Carly. “This is my story, but is only one of many. With every person plagued by this disease comes a different story, a different group of people affected, a different source of support and hope. Whether you are currently fighting this disease, celebrating your recovery, or honoring a loved one, know that you are not alone.”
Carly then proceeded to present the Rebecca Beard Award to committee members Diane Linen, and Julien Amaral. After giving out the first two awards, however, committee member Dana Ortolan took over the microphone to present the third award.
“This year’s third recipient of the Rebecca Beard Award is going to an amazing young lady who would go to school full time, works two different jobs, volunteers as an intern and Emmanuel Cancer Center, and yet spends countless hours volunteering and helping with Relay for Life each year,” stated Ortolan. “This third Rebecca Beard award goes to Rebecca’s daughter, Carly Beard.”
With many of the audience members and fellow participants in tears, Carly Beard gratefully and emotionally accepted the award in her mother’s name.
“It is such an honor to have been one of the recipients of the Rebecca Beard Award,” stated Carly after the event. “Especially after several years of presenting it to well-deserved and dedicated committee members.”
“I know my mother would be so proud of how far this event has come and it is such a great feeling to have the committee tell me how proud she would be of me. That is all a daughter ever really wants.”
For more information on Turlock Relay for Life, please visit http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?pg=entry&fr_id=37158.