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Manteca event starts with $70,000

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Manteca Relay for Life Survivor Chair Raquel Castro, center, leads the survivor lap as part of the opening ceremonies Saturday at East Union High.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED April 22, 2013 12:57 a.m.

It wasn’t the weather that brought Virginia Zore to California.

It wasn’t Disneyland or Hollywood or San Francisco or any of the other trappings of The Golden State.

It was cancer. It was the Relay for Life.

After flying clear across the country to visit friends in Manteca, Zore - who was diagnosed with lung cancer on Oct. 12 – represents the fighting spirit that the event promotes and the tenacity that one person can have against something determined to kill them.

Six chemotherapy treatments and dozens of radiation appointments later, Zore – a native of Wisconsin – said she is determined to dance at her 50th wedding anniversary and not give in to the cancer.

“This is awesome – everybody here is so friendly,” she said Saturday morning at the Manteca Relay for Life after being introduced as part of the opening ceremonies. “People here have made me feel like a queen, and seeing the rate of people that have recovered gives me hope in my own fight.”

Typically it’s the stands and the fencing outside of the track and football field at East Union’s Dino Cunial Stadium that’s full of people for special events. Saturday morning, however, it was the field itself full of tents and onlookers as cancer survivors gathered on the track and prepared to walk a lap in solidarity, marking their collective blow to the disease that will kill nearly 8 million people this year alone.

With a family history of the disease and an understanding that it can affect anyone, anytime, Kayleigh Douglas – in her first Relay for Life – said that the event itself was one of the most amazing things that she’s ever been a part of.

“The feeling of being a part of this is almost indescribable,” she said. “After being here for just a short time I definitely want to come back next year and do this again. It’s amazing seeing so many people standing together like this.”

As a benefit for the American Cancer Society, the Manteca Relay for Life raised more than $70,000 in pledges before a single person stepped out onto the track.

Now in its 13th year, the Manteca helped the growing event earn more than $1.2 million in pledges for the country’s largest cancer advocate and research organization.

It event was started in 1985 by a Tacoma surgeon who spent 24 hours walking around the track at the University of Puget Sound. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2012.

To contact Jason Campbell, email

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