The La Jolla Relay for Life, this year organized by Jamie Meronoff and held at La Jolla High School, will begin at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony celebrating those who have battled cancer. The survivor’s lap around the track will take place at 9:30 a.m., followed by continuous laps by family, friends and other supporters.
“It’s really a community-based event with people who have been affected by cancer, whether they had it or have known someone who has, or just anyone,” Meronoff said. “The idea is to have at least one person on the track for all 24 hours to show that cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither can our efforts to fight it.”
The event, Meronoff said, is based on having fun — with teams setting up picnics and campsites — while honoring and remembering those who have battled cancer. The most somber part of the event comes during the luminaria ceremony, for which luminarias — which participants are urged to decorate throughout the day — are set up along the track and all participants take a lap in silence. Photos or quotes honoring individuals who have fought cancer are shown.
“It gets quite emotional,” Meronoff said.
Meronoff, a La Jolla High School graduate and a financial advisor for Edward Jones in La Jolla, has been involved with Relay for Life events for several years, since losing his cousin to cancer.
“Cancer has really rocked my family,” he said. “My brother and I started getting involved and we found that we really had good time.”
At one point, Meronoff and his brother both served on the event’s downtown San Diego committee. Now that the event has become the biggest one in the region, he has committed himself to helping grow La Jolla’s version. His immediate goal is to simply “get people to the event, walk a couple laps and see what it’s all about.”
“We want to get more survivors there, too,” he said. “The more survivors that come, the more inspirational an event it will be. The whole point is to inspire hope in everyone.”
Meronoff encouraged even those who haven’t been affected by the disease to check out the event.
“Chances are if you haven’t been affected by cancer, at some point you will, as much as I hate to say that,” he said. “But the great news is there’s some very smart people out there, and there are some great organizationss raising lots of money to pay for research, and scientists are making some impressive findings.”
Following the night spent walking the track and camping out at the high school, participants will regroup for a Fight Back ceremony at 9 a.m. on Sunday, during which they will pledge to continue to promote the cause and educate others on how they can contribute.
“It’s just a great community event, where people are able to share their stories, survivors can come together and we can show those who are currently fighting cancer that there’s hope out there,” Meronoff said. “When you have a track with 50-100 survivors walking that first lap, it’s so inspiring.”
Participants can register for the event in teams or as individuals at relayforlife.org/lajollaca or at La Jolla High School on the day of the event. Meronoff said he’s still searching for volunteers to help with the event. For more information, email lajollarelay firstname.lastname@example.org or tiffany.lynch@ cancer.org.
For those who wish to have a photo or quote in honor of someone who has fought cancer shown during the luminaria ceremony, email email@example.com.