Walk raises awareness, cash

24-hour walkathon honors those stricken with disease

The Dancers Against Cancer team, from the South County Country Dancers of San Martin, Texas two-step their way round the course during the May 19-20 Relay For Life of South County held at Community Park in Morgan Hill. Photo by Scott Hinrichs.

Nearly 500 participants helped raise more than $105,000 as they set up camp May 19-20 at Morgan Hill Community Park for the inaugural Relay For Life of South County.

The 24-hour walkathon, the biggest annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society with localized events in cities across the country, is meant to honor those stricken with cancer and help raise money to aid research efforts in finding a cure.

“It was awesome. It was a totally seamless event. Everyone came together and had a lot of fun,” said Relay co-lead Nikkie Underhill.

The event—which included 467 Morgan Hill and Gilroy participants as well as 62 cancer survivors—touched home for Underhill, who was part of two Relay teams created separately in the memory of a long-time friend and her mother-in-law.

“It was definitely an emotional weekend,” Underhill said. “It was really a healing event for us to come together as a family.”

Relay regulars, Dancers Against Cancer, once again topped the team fundraising efforts by totaling $20,067.

“They always raise a lot of money,” said Underhill of the leading team. “It’s really incredible.”

Dancers Against Cancer, captained by Nancy Bernal and Diane Berney, raises money before the event through donations from family and friends. Then, the members make up special baskets that they raffle off during the Relay to generate even more funds, according to Underhill.

First-time participant Elizabeth Yoshida of Hu’s Platoon was the top individual earner for the 2018 Relay with a total raised of $6,620. Her participation was sparked after learning her father, Hubert Yoshida, was battling a rare cancer of the small intestine. The retired Marine Corps Captain and Bronze Star Medal recipient also helped the team in his honor raise nearly $9,500.

“It’s a brand new team….He’s currently in treatment so she started it for her dad,” Underhill said. “He was out there and the family was out there. They all did a great job.”

Donations to the Relay can be accepted through the end of August by visiting relayforlife.org/SouthCountyCA.

After Saturday’s opening ceremonies that included speeches from councilmembers Fred Tovar of Gilroy and Caitlin Robinett Jachimowicz of Morgan Hill, the “Survivors Lap” kicked off the Relay at Community Park. There were activities throughout the day with bounce houses, face painting and live music. Keeping with a Gilroy Relay tradition, a cardboard box-car race took place as part of the special overnight experience. A “Miss Relay” contest, where male participants dressed in women’s clothing and then strutted around collecting donations, was another fun event.

“It was a fun time, a fun weekend,” Underhill said.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner was served to all participants in the hospitality tent as well.

As the sun went down, the “Luminaries Ceremony” lit up the track for late night participants. Students in Live Oak High School’s Future Business Leaders of America decorated the luminaries that were bought on site.

Relay For Life of South County

Donations to the Relay can be accepted through the end of August by visiting relayforlife.org/SouthCountyCA.




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