Menifee Will Fight Cancer At Saturday's Relay For Life

Teams of volunteers walk around the track at Paloma Valley High School in last year's Relay ...

Teams of volunteers walk around the track at Paloma Valley High School in last year's Relay for Life event.
Editor's note: An air quality advisory was issued today for parts of Riverside County, but organizers of Saturday's Relay for Life say the event will go on as scheduled.

More than 1,000 people are expected to attend Saturday's Relay For Life Menifee, a 24-hour-long event that will raise money and awareness to fight cancer.

This is the 9th annual Relay For Life that's been held in the city. This year's theme is the circus, with an intent to "clown out cancer."

Teams of participants will spend all day and all night walking themed laps around the Paloma Valley High School track, where the event will take place. Registered participants will camp out and spend the night around the track.

"Cancer never sleeps, so we don't sleep," said Jennafer Griswold, the event chair. "We'll do as much as we can to keep people up all night."

As people take turns walking, there will be entertainment, activities, circus games, ceremonies, competitions and more. There will also be a kid's camp where children can go to "clown school," make crafts and bounce around in jump houses.

One event in particular is the Luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m., when teams will take a silent walk around the track in remembrance of those who have lost their battles with cancer. Candles will be lit, and a bagpipe will be playing.

Griswold said if anyone was unsure about which events to attend, this should definitely be one of them.

"It gets really emotional," she said.

There are currently 532 participants and 23 teams, but Griswold expects the number of people attending to double during the relay.

This year their goal is to raise $65,000. Already they have raised over $56,000.

"Menifee just keeps giving and giving and giving," said Griswold. "We've never not hit our goal here."

According to Griswold, everything for the event, from the entertainment to the food, has been donated, from local businesses and community members. The entire event is set up and run by committees of volunteers.

Many of the people involved with the event have been affected by cancer. Griswold got involved with Relay For Life when her son was diagnosed with cancer five years ago. A nine-inch tumor was discovered on his femur, and Griswold was told the best option was amputation. But after conducting her own research and seeking more opinions, they were able to successfully remove the tumor without amputating her son's leg.

Griswold said he walks with a slight limp, but her son is now a third-year ROTC cadet at Paloma Valley High School.

The mantra of Relay For Life is to "Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back." Its main goal is to educate people about the different types of cancer, cancer p