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During a recent event planning meeting, Brandon Temple, co-owner of 760 Fitness and High Desert Fitness (Center), displays the survivor ribbon with Relay for Life committee members. / Laura Austin Photo

Relay for Life 2023 to be held Oct 21 at new location

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer–  This year’s Relay for Life will be held on Saturday, October 21, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. inside 760 Fitness on their indoor track at 923 S China Lake Blvd.

When Brandon Temple, co-owner of 760 Fitness and High Desert Fitness, learned that this year’s event was going to be held virtually, he stepped up to the plate to get it back on the ground as close as possible to the original format.

Temple tells us, “We were sad to see such an important event with such a meaningful cause diminish into a virtual state. So when we heard about this, we decided, at the last minute, to host Relay for Life. We’re trying our very best to honor the essential elements of it while bringing in fresh new businesses and new faces.

“When you initially come in, you’ll have to register for the event for liability purposes. From there, if you’re not a member of 760 Fitness, you get free access there for the day. So we’ll have to have a gym liability waiver for that as well. There will be several booths inside located outside of the track as you walk around the track. Each booth intends to have fun activities or items for sale. All in the name of raising funds for the American Cancer Society.

Hundreds of walkers across the community turn out annually to support The American Cancer Society.
/ Laura Austin Photo

“You ideally want somebody walking the track from your team throughout the event. However, given the nature of this event, we really want to shoot for having people coming in for the opening ceremony at 8 a.m. That’s where we recognize survivors, caregivers, and those who lost their battle with cancer.” At 8:30 am is the Survivor/Caregiver Lap.  We really want people coming out for the Luminarios/Silent Lap, where we have paper bags with candles inside of them. Each bag represents a survivor, somebody who’s still fighting, or somebody who unfortunately lost that battle.

“We have some people who are big donors for it who are helping sponsor the event. We have Relay for Life purple fundraiser buckets placed around town at various businesses, including our own. You could donate there physically with cash, or you could donate online or at the event. We encourage the businesses that have booths and are participating to find ways to raise funds for the event. So, for example, if a booth is selling bracelets that they had kids make or something like that, they sell them for $1, and that dollar goes to the American Cancer Society. Now, the luminaries as well are another method to raise funds for the cause. You could buy those online beforehand, or you could buy them at the event, and that is cash or card.”

Teams or individuals can find ways to raise funds. Sometimes, they get sponsors to donate per mile. That is on an individual basis, not managed by the event.

Relay for Life has been active in Ridgecrest since the 1990s. Early years were held at the Burroughs High School track and then moved to the Cerro Coso track. Post-COVID, it was moved to Leroy Jackson Park because there has been construction going on at the Cerro Coso track. It won’t be available for another year or two.

“We have quite a few people at High Desert Fitness and 760 Fitness who are going through their own battles, which are close to me and my family,” says Temple. “I think that Relay has been a big heart and morale boost of Ridgecrest as a community.  I feel losing that event is losing a big part of Ridgecrest’s heart. Ridgecrest was the biggest fundraiser Relay for Life venue in California, I believe. There were the most funds raised here in Ridgecrest, this tiny town. Three to 7,000 people would show up to these events, and now we’re where we are today. I think that a small town can’t lose its heart like that, you know, especially that scale. So that’s the reason I feel we need to do this.”

When 760 Fitness decided to host the event, they had about six weeks to plan. They gathered together a committee with Temple, Ashley Randolph, Tara Morehead, Krysten Coursey, Caitlin Edward, Maria Estrada, and Parris Knight.

The first Relay for Life was in Tacoma, Washington in 1985. Dr. Gordy Klatt wanted to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. He spent 24 hours running around a track with donors spending $25 to spend a half hour walking or running with him. He walked/ran 83 miles and raised $27,000. This started it all, and since 1985, Relay for Life has raised $6.8 billion to help save lives from cancer. Events are held worldwide across 31 countries.

You can register in advance online at