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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

Relay for Life gets personal

November 12, 2014

Team Braddock Relay for LifeClarence Braddock, a business instructor on the Visalia campus for ten years was at home battling lung cancer, and many of his students in the ASB and Enactus clubs wanted to do something to show their affection and support.

Club members decided to put together Team Braddock to participate in Relay for Life, a national event sponsored by the American Cancer Society that raises money for cancer research and promotes awareness for those struggling with or who have succumbed to cancer. Team members wanted to honor this instructor who had touched so many lives by raising at least $2,000 in his name.

“A lot of students had Mr. Braddock,” says Kellee Irwin, ASB Advisor and General Ed instructor. “His knowledge and experience transcended students and faculty.”

SJVC’s Team Braddock only had three weeks to prepare for the 24-hr. long race held at Tulare Western High School’s track on October 11-12. Sadly, about 10 days before the event, Clarence Braddock succumbed to his illness.

Team Braddock’s nineteen members hit the track at 9:00 AM on Saturday with even greater fervor. SJVC student club and faculty members, along with a few friends and family, stayed the circular course until the last lap at 9:00 AM Sunday. They had raised $3,000 in Clarence Braddock’s name.

The rules of the relay were strict. At least one team member had to be on the track at all times. “We would do 4-5 laps in shifts,” says Alisha Patoc, Human Resource Administration program student, Enactus member and Team Braddock Co-captain. “We had our own little camp sites with decorated tents where we could sleep or change clothes.”

A new theme was introduced every hour, and participants got to know each other better through ‘Luck of the Irish’, ‘School Pride’ and other fun bursts of competition.

At least six members of Team Braddock stay the full 24-hours and all took part in set-up and tear-down responsibilities. Relay for Life provided food and water for all participants. At the end of the event 81-teams of 800-walkers raised over $200,000. Tulare’s 2013 Relay for Life raised enough money to rank in the top 5% nationwide.

One of the highlights of this year’s Relay for Life was the luminary’s ceremony. Luminaries are white paper bags with sand-supported candles that each pay tribute to someone who has fought or lost a battle with cancer. Team members lit all the bags that surrounded the football field then gathered, as stadium lights were turned off, to watch video clips team members provided of those they were there to honor.

Over the course of the relay, team members had a chance to remember Mr. Braddock and the positive impact he had on students. “He was very much a gentleman and he shared so much of his knowledge, which empowered his students,” says Alisha.

“I remember Mr. Braddock having a sweet tooth and everyone in class knew that he loved almond Rocha and we would joke about it,” says Jacquelyn Castrejon, Business Administration student, Enactus member and Team Braddock Captain. “He would say, ‘Oh, don’t tell my wife; it’s our little secret.’”

“He was not shy when it came to voicing his opinions on professionalism and raising the expectations of his students to learn valuable lessons,” says Kellee. “When he spoke, people listened and learned. His children are all very successful in their own right, as his expectations for them were just as high as they were for his students.”

Future students will miss an important influence on their commitment to education. “He always had the same line at orientation,” says David Morra, business instructor and Enactus advisor. I was always taught as a young boy to close this (motioning to his mouth), open this (pointing to his ears) and turn on this (touching his head). “That is so reflective of Mr. Braddock.”

Many SJVC faculty members attended Clarence Braddock’s service and spoke about his impact on so many at the college. “His family thanked us for walking in his honor, and his son, Clarence Braddock Jr., spoke about Team Braddock and how much it meant to his dad, at the memorial service,” says Mr. Morra.

No one would be more proud that Mr. Braddock to hear that seeds are germinating for more SJVC students to participate in next year’s Relay for Life.

“This was so meaningful for me because I want to work for a non-profit and volunteering is something I always wanted to do,” says Jacquelyn. “This is a beautiful cause, and if we get a head start I believe we can incorporate all SJVC programs next year.”