Aly Makishima Relays for Life in Campbell

The 24-hour event takes place this Saturday, July 7 at the Campbell Community Center track.

For Aly Makishima, it was the death of the mother of two high school friends from ovarian cancer that first got her out on the track doing laps.

Relay for Life of Campbell has been part of her life for more than five years and she doesn’t see an end in sight just yet.

“Relay for Life is basically honoring, celebrating and remembering those that we lost to cancer and those that are still fighting,” Makishima says. “It’s a 24-hour campout because cancer never sleeps and neither will we.”

According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the second most common cause of death in the U.S., exceeded only by heart disease, accounting for nearly one of every four deaths. In 2012 there are about 577,190 Americans expected to die of cancer; more than 1,500 people a day. The association’s 5-year “relative survival rate” for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67 percent, up from 49 percent in 1975-1977. 

Makishima's original team she ran with, Claire's Kids is still relaying today and has raised $4,212.50 for this year's event. Makishima relays with her own team now, Team Brightside, which has raised $5,165.14.

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life began in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash. and now has more than 5,200 events nationwide and has raised more than $4.5 billion.

In Campbell, teams were first formed in 2000 and have raised more than $2.5 million to go towards cancer research, aid and treatment. Currently, there are 782 participants, 68 teams and they have $123,688 raised just in 2012.

Campbell Patch sat down to chat with Makishima, this year's event chair, and talked about her involvement, why she relays, who inspires her and ways others can participate in this big event in the Orchard City.

Campbell Patch: What is your current role with Relay for Life Campbell?

Aly Makishima: This year I am the Chair. I've been on the committee for three years and before that I was the public relations person.

Patch: What role do volunteers play in Relay?

Makishima: I think the relay would not run without volunteers and its committee. They need fresh faces to keep them strong.

Patch: Why was Relay something that you felt you needed to take part in?

Makishima: It was important for me to support them, Jennifer and Sarah Avery (who had lost their mom), and who was chair when I first started.

It was a skill-set that I can bring to the table. It was an event that I wanted to have more of a contribution for.

Patch: Why should others get involved?

Makishima: I think people don’t realize the scope of it, the power of the event, until they come. It's important to get the all of the businesses, the community there because it's important to the survivors see all these people.

It's one of the biggest events. Why wouldn’t you want to be involved in such an organization?

Patch: Why cancer?

Makishima: At the time that I started, I didn’t know anyone that had passed away from cancer.

A few years ago, I had two aunts diagnosed and it hit hard. Everyone has someone that has been touched by it. It's something that brings us all together and its important for businesses and people to show their support for residents here.

Patch: Who are some people involved in Relay that have made an impact/impression on you?

Makishima: First, a man named John Scalmanini. His wife Elizabeth is actually the one that brought relay to the Bay Area. Campbell is in its 12th year, but it started at Foothill College, then moved to Los Gatos High School and has now been in Campbell for the last 12 years. From here, it's branched out everywhere.

John is on the committee and his wife has since passed away. He is a steadfast leader and invaluable volunteer for our committee. He’s inspirational and has motivated me this whole time.

Madeline Borges, the team captain of Rose’s Rays of Hope is another. That team has been a top team in Campbell; they have always raised over $20,000. They have huge raffles and Madeline walks the midnight to 8:00 a.m. shift.

She’s been a very inspirational walker. Her team has expanded to three. Their tent is amazingly decorated. All new teams really look up to her. She’s also a committee member.

And Kim Carney, the team development leader this year is another person. Her husband … his body didn’t take the treatment well and passed away. She’s a single mom and has devoted her life to getting the word out. She does it for her boys. She’s the most passionate person I know. 

Patch: How can people participate?

Makishima: First, go to www.relayforlife.org/campbellca and read about the event. Then, they can sign up a team. They can come to the event. They can tweet about us. They can come to dinner fundraisers on our websites. They can put their business cards in our program.

Even just coming on the day of and seeing what its all about.

There’s also tons of ways for people to donate or participate. You can be part of the luminaria bags (a $10 donation). It honors someone that has passed away, someone that is still fighting ... it's really everyone.


Relay for Life of Campbell is free and takes place Saturday, July 7 at the Campbell Community Center track, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Sunday, July 8.

The general public is invited to come out, whether they're relaying or not, and enjoy the day's festivities, including BBQ, laser tag, the free kids area with a jumpy house and crafts, arts, and fundraisers around the track, as well as to show support to those on the relaying.

The scheduled events are as follows:

  • Opening Ceremony: 10:00 a.m.
  • Survivor Lap: 10:30 a.m.
  • Fight Back: 9:00 a.m.
  • Luminaria Ceremony: 8:30 p.m.
  • Closing Ceremony: 9:00 a.m.


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