Participants at the 19th annual Relay for Life fundraiser in Hollister had a variety of stories to tell and motivations to take part.
The event happened Friday evening into Saturday afternoon at Ladd Lane Elementary School. The local teams had a goal of raising $110,000 this year.
For Irma Torres, it’s hard to talk about the event without tearing up because she’s so connected.
“My mom died of cancer,” she said, adding how a sister is a 10-year survivor before going further. “I’ve got a nice that just passed away, from colon cancer.”
Sharon Johnson’s grandson Christopher passed away from cancer at age 3, and pictures were hanging from her family’s tent at the event Friday before the opening ceremonies.
“The first year he was surviving, he was here and he went around the track being pulled in his wagon,” Johnson said.
Chuck Obeso-Bradley has been involved for many years with the local Relay for Life. He mentioned how locals have helped to raise over $2 million in the 19 years.
“I’m an 11 year survivor,” he said Friday night. “I was a member of the leadership team before I had cancer, and the event changed for me very much.”
Linda Roma was at the event, but as a legislative ambassador for the American Cancer Society. She said it’s a great place to educate young people on health matters.
“The young people love to come and be a part of it,” she said. “Anytime you can educate them about sunscreen, about not smoking, about healthy living, it’s just a great venue for that.”
Marge Sanford, an 11-year survivor, was there with friend Jackie Gash. They attend several Relay events, including one with prisoners in Soledad.
“After you’ve been diagnosed, you try to find a way to give back,” she said.
One way she does that is by helping new breast cancer patients navigate through issues.
“We’re all fighting for the same cause,” Gash added. “It all goes to help find a cure for this nasty disease.”
Jessica Ruiz is the organizer of the local event for the American Cancer Society and spoke during the opening.
“You have courage, hope, empathy, determination, and together we can make the greatest impact to save lives,” she said.