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Lathrop Relay for Life takes place Aug. 10-11

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POSTED July 15, 2013 12:57 a.m.

LATHROP – For the third year in a row, Manuel Valverde Park will play host to the annual Lathrop Relay for Life benefit for the American Cancer Society in August.

Previously, Lathrop High School in west Lathrop has been the venue for a number of years. But Relay organizers started looking for another location when the fee that Manteca Unified required for the two-day use of the school campus “was just too big for us,” said Jeryl Weiler who is chairing the event this year.

“Then the city stepped in and said, ‘we’ll help you;’ and so far, so good,” said a thankful Weiler.

Since the beneficiary of the Relay fund-raiser is a non-profit organization, the city is waiving the usual fee being charged for the use of a public facility. However, the organization has to follow protocol and file the necessary application forms at City Hall. The application then goes before the Council members for discussion and approval.

“We’re excited to have (the Relay) there” at Valverde Park, said Weiler who is serving the first of her two-year tenure as chairwoman of the event.

While the loss of the Lathrop High School venue was disappointing at first, Weiler said “that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.” Not only do they not have to pay a fee for the use of the park, the new venue has plenty of pluses.

“It’s a comfortable and quite a nice location, and it has a water feature. And we have flush toilets,” she said happily.

She also gave high marks to the landscaped trails where the walk will be conducted. The cemented pathway, which was part of the $4.1 million expansion and renovation of Valverde Park several years ago, meanders around the park, and are shaded by the thick foliage of soaring mature trees. Scattered along the trail under the trees are benches where walkers can rest a spell and feast their eyes on the lush verdant park in front of them. An interactive water feature next to a rose garden, with the granite Veterans Memorial Wall honoring the Lathrop men and women who gave their all for their country, were all part of the multimillion-dollar park beautification. Behind the memorial are a bocce ball court and expanded basketball courts, and a spacious children’s play area complete with a jungle gym on the other side of the park which also were part of the park renovation.

Manuel Valverde Park, which was named after one of Lathrop pioneers, is located on Fifth Street just north of Lathrop Elementary School in the city’s Historic Old Town.

The Relay for Life will be held Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11. Saturday’s events will include the traditional survivors’ walk on the first lap, with the survivors and their caregivers on the second lap. These will be followed by the 10 a.m. Survivors Breakfast at 10 a.m. which will served in the Senior Center by volunteers.

In the evening on Saturday at 9 p.m. will be the moving Luminaria ceremony when scores of candles will be lit with their light glowing in the darkness, each light dedicated to someone who has battled or is currently battling cancer. It’s a ceremony of remembrance and hope, and a way to honor survivors.

For more information about the Lathrop Relay for Life or how to help, contact Jeryl Weiler at (209) 679-2540.

Contact Rose Albano Risso at or at (209) 249-3536.

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