It’s a tradition in the Latino community to honor departed loved ones. Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a celebration of life.
For the past seven years, one Southern Oregon community marked the holiday each November with a race through the vibrant streets of Talent. But in the wake of devastating fires that leveled much of the community, the celebration has had to be reimagined.
On September 8th, an intense, wind-driven fire swept through multiple towns, leveling neighborhoods. The raging Almeda fire moved so fast and spread so quickly that residents were fortunate to leave with the clothes on their backs.
“It leveled whole swaths of community,” said Chela Sanchez, “Just shy of three thousand homes are completely gone, 80-percent of an elementary school is now homeless.”
The fire reduced entire neighborhoods to ash, destroying homes and businesses in Phoenix and Talent, a working-class, predominantly Latino community about 35 miles north of the California border. Many displaced families lost everything and don’t know if they will ever fully recover or rebuild their homes.
“We want people in the community to know that they’re not forgotten,” said Sanchez. “We’re all connected through life, through death. There is so much we can do if we just walk together, or run.”
Chela Sanchez, Director of the Day of the Dead Race, joins our Laura Cavanaugh to break down how the hundreds of Talent and Phoenix residents are trying to cope with being displaced during the pandemic and through the holidays. She also shares how you can step up to help by logging some miles, celebrating the life of a departed loved one and doing something meaningful to help these Almeda Fire victims.
The Virtual Day of the Dead Race, is running through the month of November. It’s a way to celebrate culture, connection and community virtually. Just register for a mile fun run, a 5k or a 10k. You’ll have the opportunity to dedicate your race to a loved one and be eligible for Day of the Dead Race swag, including prizes, hats, hoodies and limited edition COVID calaveras. The registration fees will benefit victims of the Almeda Fire. If you’re not a runner and you feel generous, you are welcomed to donate to the non-profit. Your donation is tax-deductible.
“It will go directly to a family who is in need,” reports Sanchez. “We’re hoping to give enough money to be a bridge for housing.”
This is an opportunity to encourage friends, family, neighbors, running groups to join together virtually and do something meaningful and be a glimmer of hope for families who desperately need that hope this holiday season.
To register to race, visit dayofthedeadrace.com/virtual-race