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Relay For Life Manteca kick-off event tonight
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• WHAT: American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life kick-off event.
• WHEN: Tonight from 6 to 8 p.m.
• WHERE: Manteca High cafeteria, 450 E. Yosemite Ave.
• MORE INFO: Relay for Life is planned for May 2010 with multiple events in the works leading up to the actual relay.
• CONTACT: Mary Jones, Manteca High, (209) 858-7340, ext. 56810.

The official kick-off for the next Relay for Life in Manteca will be held today from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Manteca High School Cafeteria.

For those who are thinking of joining the next event to honor past and present cancer patients and survivors and would like to get directions on what to do and how to participate, this is the time and place to get all that.

“(This) is our annual introduction event,” said Mary Jones, this  year’s events coordinator for the Manteca Relay for Life.

“We invite past Relay participants and new community members to come and get information about Relay for Life, what we do and why. We will have general information available, as well as registration packets for teams, individuals and survivors. There will be people from each of our main committees with tables set up to answer questions and hand out information,” Jones said.

In addition, there will be a guest speaker featured tonight, a cancer survivor who will be sharing her experience, as well as a video presentation about the American Cancer Society and Relay for life.

“We especially encourage cancer survivors to come as they are the reason we Relay, to remember, honor and encourage us to keep fighting,” Jones said.

There will be information available also to those who would like to find out more about Relay current fund-raising events, upcoming activities as well as various ways to get involved with the American Cancer Society, she said.

The kick-off event, she said, is open to everyone who wants to “learn more about who we are and what we are trying to accomplish.”

Proceeds generated from Relay for Life events are used to fund cancer research and programs such as “Look good, feel better,” a program that provides wigs and beauty tips to patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments in an effort to help them adjust to the changes in their hair and skin as a result of the medical procedure, Jones explained.

The American Cancer Society provides more services than that, however. There are also programs to help patients and survivors with transportation to and from doctor appointments and chemotherapy treatments.

Relay for Life is “the single largest fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society. This past year, there were Relay events in over 5,000 communities across the globe,” Jones said.

The first Relay for Life was held 26 years ago in the state of Washington. It was a single event with one participant. Today, there are hundreds of thousands taking part in the effort every year, Jones said.

This is the 11th year for the Manteca Relay.

“This year, our goal is to become a Million Dollar Relay,” Jones said. “That means that if we hit our goal of roughly $166,000 this year, the Manteca Relay Event will have raised a total of $1 million dollars over its 11 years. Even if someone has never heard of Relay for Life, we invite them to come and see what we are all about.”

The next Manteca Relay for Life will be held on May 1-2 in 2010 at Sierra High School.