Left to right, Tracy "Trixie" Vest, Rima "Palestinian Princess" Totah, Tony "Chocolate Thunder" Wade, Claire "The Cheer Warrior" Kelley, Mary "Grammar Girl" Daniels, Christina "The Gray Badger" Polites, Melissa "Ghost Hunter" Rashid and Theresa "The Blue Prism" Gibson

Local lifestyle columnists

Relay for Life of Fairfield was super

By From page A2 | July 28, 2014

When we later create a graphic novel showing the origin of the I Grew Up in Fairfield Too Facebook Group’s Relay for Life Superhero Team, it will say that I shined the symbol of the Fairfield sign on a cloud and heroes assembled. Actually, I just posted a request on Facebook.

Our team consisted of Claire “The Cheer Warrior” Kelley, Theresa “The Blue Prism” Gibson, Tracy “Trixie” Vest, Rima “Palestinian Princess” Totah, Christina “The Gray Badger” Polites, Mary “Grammar Girl” Daniels, Melissa “Ghost Hunter” Rashid and me, Tony “Chocolate Thunder” Wade.

The real superhero was Christina, our team’s sole cancer survivor.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life events are about celebrating survivors, remembering those who passed away and fighting back against the dreaded disease. The 24-hour events take place all over the country. Fairfield’s was July 19-20 at Armijo High School’s football field.

I’ve had teams thrice before, but this was hands down the most fun and the most impactful as we raised $2,500 of the approximately $80,000 the entire shebang made. One of the most successful personal fundraisers were my Humiliate Me plans.

This was where I, a die-hard Raiders fan, wore the hat of other teams, held a customized sign and took a picture and posted the photos on Facebook for a donation. I never said I’d smile.

Out of the Humiliate Me plans came an idea from three Fairfield High graduates – Linda Ueki Absher, Sharon Kastens Lopez and Deborah Arsich. It was that I, an Armijo grad, should dress up as a Fairfield High School cheerleader for a donation. They put their money where their mouths were and Gina Coyle, a talented local actress/singer/costumer, made and donated the costume.

Thus Roxie Junktrunk, the 6-foot 4-inch purple-haired Fairfield High cheerleader, was born. So many people asked for pictures I took zero selfies (a new record).

Some Fairfield Relay for Life snapshots:

  • It was great to see longtime friends the McNarys; Ed, Connie, Daniel a.k.a. Maus, and Daniel’s sweet-as-pie youngest daughter, Yana. Daniel has been battling cancer and looked great.
  • Our team’s main on-site fundraiser echoed the superhero theme of the event. It was a 4-foot by 4-foot wooden bean bag toss with the likenesses of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman on it. Celestino Galabasa Jr., who designed the Mexican American Youth Organization mural that used to be in front of Armijo, created it.
  • The ever-present Fairfield wind was welcome . . . and a hassle. The temperatures were pleasant, but it brought to the forefront the need for we committee members to find a solution before next year’s event. Canopies have to be weighted, since we cannot stake them down on the artificial turf and we can’t risk them flipping over.
  • Catherine Moy’s speech at the opening ceremony was passionate, down-to-earth and powerful – even as she wore a cat tail reflecting her team, The Cool Cats. I finally had the chance to meet her husband, Ken Man, as well.
  • I love being part of the community uniting for good. I was choked up with gratitude at the closing ceremony.

The planning meetings our team had at Monsoon Burgers were fun as was the event, but the seriousness of what we were there for was ever-present. I wrote a few weeks ago about how my Armijo classmate Vic Agnello’s death from leukemia affected me and many others. Still, what I experienced was nothing compared to what one of our team members had to endure.

Rima Totah was able to procure some materials for Relay and put signifying letters on the back of the cool purple capes that Barbara McFadden fashioned for us, but could not attend the event, save for a brief visit late Saturday night.

Her uncle, Monsignor Sami Totah, a beloved priest who had worked at a parish in New York since 1977, had taken a turn for the worse in his fight against cancer late last week. Her family attended to him in his final hours and he died at 4 a.m. that Sunday. May he rest in peace.

Thanks to everyone who helped our team and others raise money to fight cancer. You can still donate to our team by visiting http://main.acsevents.org/goto/iguift.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].

Tony Wade

Tony Wade

Tony Wade is the slightly older yet infinitely more handsome brother of long-time DR columnist Kelvin Wade

Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Catherine MoyJuly 28, 2014 - 9:27 am

    Tony Wade, your team, your leadership, meant so much for this important event. Thank you. From all of us cancer survivors, and for those who will hear some of the scariest words one could hear " You have cancer," you and your team are superheroes.

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  • P.J.July 28, 2014 - 10:11 am

    Thanks Tony, for all you do to brighten the spirits of those you encounter! Your endeavors, your willingness to participate in all things Fairfield make you #1 in the hearts of many. I didn't "grow up" in Fairfield, my kids did, but they moved away long ago. I think you are the 'best looking' cheer leader Fairfield High School ever had! THANKS!!!

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  • Sure looks strange to me.....July 28, 2014 - 12:12 pm


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  • Lyrics....July 28, 2014 - 12:18 pm


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