What: Davis Relay for Life, a 24-hour walk to benefit the American Cancer Society
When: 10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday
Where: Emerson Junior High School track, 2121 Calaveras Ave.
Dylan Lee was so tired after last year’s 24-hour Relay for Life in Davis that when it finally ended, he went home and slept for about 24 hours straight.
But even before he hit the sack, he knew he’d be back again this year, co-captaining Team Walk Around the Clock again with his friend Joe Blakewell.
Together, the two Davis High School students organized and oversaw a relay team composed primarily of Davis youths who raised nearly $10,000 last year for the American Cancer Society. The team held fundraisers that ranged from lemonade stands to pizza parties and made sure they had someone from the team on the Emerson Junior High School track for 24 straight hours during the relay last August.
Blakewell estimates he walked more than 26 miles during that 24-hour period and may well do so again when the 2013 version of the relay takes place this weekend.
The annual event — held in cities and towns all over the country — raises funds for cancer research, treatment and patient support. Teams pledge to have at least one member walking the track at all times during the 24-hour period, symbolizing the ongoing, non-stop battle against a disease that never sleeps.
The event is very personal for Dylan, whose mom, Joyce Lee, is battling cancer, and she is the reason why he is captaining the team again, he said.
“The most important reason (for me) is my mom,” said the young man.
Joyce Lee is a major inspiration to Blakewell as well, as is a hockey teammate who recently lost a father to cancer.
“People who are affected by cancer have really inspired me,” he said.
As they did last year, the boys set a fundraising goal of $5,000 for their team. And as they did last year, they’ve already surpassed it.
They’ve done so largely thanks to a diverse group of Davis kids who have come up with creative ways to raise money.
Four of them — Lee’s brother Gabriel, 11, as well as Mathew Belenis, Molly Burke and Bryn Goedde Matthews — staffed a lemonade stand at Mace Ranch Park last week, selling shaken lemonade and baked goods, and raising about $450 in just a few hours, Lee said.
Blakewell’s brothers Nick, 11, and Sam, 13, held a toy sale earlier this month, collecting used toys and selling them in front of their uncle’s house one morning, raising $200.
Meanwhile, teens Ray Young, Ethan Hessl, Matt Rowan and Owen Yancher raised nearly $500 by hosting a movie night at the Youngs’ house, and the Catacutan family organized a home run derby and barbecue that raised another $800.
Lamppost Pizza was the scene of a recent fundraiser that Blakewell organized, earning the team $400, which was then matched by two different Davis families — the Youngs and Finertys — bringing the total from that event to $1,200.
At this point, the team is on pace to eclipse last year’s $9,700 total, an amount that earned them the title of top fundraising team at the Davis relay.
And as grueling as that 24 hours was for the boys, Blakewell and Lee both found strength in the support they received from people from all aspects of their lives.
“People from our hockey team, from my school, from the baseball team I was on, from my church, family friends … a lot of different people came out,” Lee recalled.
“A lot of people came and went,” Blakewell added, “but we stayed the whole time.”
And each time someone new arrived to walk, it invigorated everybody, he said.
“It felt really good, really exciting, to have people come out,” Blakewell explained. “It made us want to go back out there and walk with them.”
This year’s event gets underway at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Emerson track, 2121 Calaveras Ave., and concludes at 10 a.m. Sunday.
As they did last year, Team Walk Around the Clock will have tents and easy-ups set up for those who need a little rest, as well as food and drinks and even games to play. All community members are invited to come out and walk or just visit, picnic, even camp overnight, and cheer on walkers from close to a dozen different teams that will be participating.
One of the highlights of every relay is the lighting of the luminaria — candle-lit paper bags decorated in honor of, or in memory of, individuals who have struggled with cancer. Each bag bears the name of a person who has battled cancer, and as night falls, and the candles within are lit, the bags light the way around the track for walkers.
The suggested donation for luminaria is $10 each and the bags will be available to decorate during the relay.
Donations also may be made to Team Walk Around the Clock by visiting http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0D4CAEAA23AA8-walk. Funds will be accepted through the end of August, Lee said, and every little bit helps.
“It doesn’t just go to research,” he noted. “It helps with treatment and provides support to families.”
That’s something he’s seen firsthand.
And he feels good about paying it forward.
“We know a lot of people that have been affected by cancer,” Lee said. “And we can really make a difference.
“We have made a difference.”
— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy