By Kristina Houck
Community members will come together to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones and fight against cancer during the inaugural Relay For Life of Del Mar on Aug. 17 at Del Mar Heights Elementary School.
During the event, participants will walk on the track around the clock to raise funds for the American Cancer Society to support patients, caregivers and survivors in treatment and recovery.
“Nobody is immune to cancer,” said Nathan Clookie, senior manager of Relay For Life. “Everybody is touched by it. Everybody has a friend, family member or co-worker who’s currently battling, battled and beat, or lost the battle.”
A melanoma survivor, Clookie is organizing Relay For Life of Del Mar because there isn’t a local event and the closest relays take place in La Jolla and Encinitas. Relay For Life launched in La Jolla in 1996 and Encinitas in 2005.
“We’ve done Relay For Life events all over San Diego County,” said Clookie, who has worked for the American Cancer Society since 2010. “There’s a big gap between La Jolla and Encinitas where there’s no event. We like to have an event in each community, so each community can participate, celebrate their local cancer survivors and also raise money to fight against cancer.”
About a dozen volunteers formed a committee in June to plan the event. The group hopes to recruit at least 15 teams and raise $15,000, Clookie said. Three teams have registered for the 24-hour event so far.
“We’re looking for people to form teams with friends, family and co-workers to come out and spend the night with us and fundraise,” Clookie said. “We’re also looking for volunteers who want to get their hands in event planning and take on one of our many committee roles.”
In honor of her cousin who died from cancer, Carlsbad resident Katie Newman is volunteering as a committee member and is leading the six-member Team Cabo. The 23-year-old sales representative hopes to raise at least $1,000.
“It’s close to home for my family, and I just want to help however I can,” Newman said.
Originally from London, Newman has lived with her late cousin’s family in Carlsbad for two years. This will be her first time participating in Relay For Life.
“What I really like is that this is the first year,” Newman said. “Everybody is new to it. There is a learning curve for everybody. It’s an exciting opportunity.”
While details are still being planned, community members can expect to celebrate local cancer survivors during the Survivors Lap at Relay For Life of Del Mar. Participants will also have an opportunity to decorate paper bags that will be lit at night to honor loved ones who have battled cancer, whether they have won or lost the fight.
“No event is the same,” Clookie said. “We really want to build this one up to reflect Del Mar and be a place where cancer patients and their families, or families of those who have lost someone to cancer, can go and be with other people who have had similar experiences and fellowship with them.”
Relay For Life of Del Mar begins at 10 a.m. on Aug. 17 at Del Mar Heights School located at 13555 Boquita Drive in Del Mar.
For more information, and to donate or register online, visit www.relayforlife.org/delmarca. To inquire about volunteer opportunities, contact Clookie at 619-606-4855 or email@example.com.