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Teen helps promote cancer awareness

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Teen helps promote cancer awareness

Alex Duarte posts a sign advertising the upcoming Relay for Life at Sierra High School on May 16-17.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED May 7, 2009 1:47 a.m.
There are a lot of things that 13-year-old Alex Duarte could have been doing last Saturday.

But rather than hitting the basketball court with his friends or playing video games from the comfort of his couch, Duarte was out “painting the town purple” – applying purple ribbons throughout the community to promote awareness for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event that takes place May 16-17.

While cancer has always been something that Duarte knew about it, it wasn’t until he watched his grandmother pass away the day after last Christmas that he realized maybe it was time to try and do something about it.

“For whatever reason people hear the word cancer and shrug it off like it’s just the common cold – and  the scary thing is that it’s becoming just as common,” Duarte said. “We need people to know that there are things they can do to help others afflicted by this terrible disease, and that by working together we just might find a cure not only for just some cancers but for all.”

Duarte will be part of Cricket’s Craze – a team of walkers that will take an active role in the 24-hour walk that also includes vendors selling items that also go towards the American Cancer Society’s goal of providing services to those afflicted and researching for a cure.

While he’ll be walking in memory of Grandmother Colleen McDonald – who was told my doctors that her particular form of lymphoma was so slow-growing that she would eventually pass away from old age – the members of Cricket’s Craze will also be walking with the team honoring five-year cancer survivor Justin De Bie.

De Bie will be celebrating his birthday at the event.

“I’m really doing this because I think that if everyone in American just gave $5 then we’d be that much closer towards finding a cure for something that will affect everyone at one point in time,” Duarte said. “During that last year with my Grandmother everything just went by so fast – everything was flying right over my head.

“But now that I’ve had a chance to think about it I want to honor her memory and do what I can to help in the fight.”

And he’ll do it all with Osgood-Schlatter disease – a tendonitis-like affliction that makes it difficult for him stand for long periods of time.

“Being a little bit uncomfortable is nothing compared to what people with cancer go through,” Duarte said. “Unless we do everything we can then cancer isn’t going to ever go away.”

The Manteca Relay for Life starts at Sierra High School on Saturday, May 16, at 9 a.m. and runs for 24-hours.  To view Alex’s web page outlining his reasons for being involved with Relay for Life visit www.main.acsevents.org/goto/alexduarte. To find out more about the Relay for Life visit www.relayforlife.org/mantecaca.
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