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October is Cancer Awareness Month

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Kelly Cardoza stands next to the banner in the lobby of the Manteca Unified District office announcing the observation of Cancer Awareness Month.


POSTED October 22, 2013 2:04 a.m.

Five years ago, longtime Manteca Unified School District employee and community volunteer Faustina Rosas lost her battle against cancer. A few years before that, Kelly Cardoza of the district office personnel department lost her young cousin Jowell Griggs, a young wife and mother, to the same dreaded disease after a short but valiant fight.

“We are all affected in some way by cancer and this is a fund-raiser that is close to our hearts,” said Cardoza.

Rosas, who was secretary to Superintendent Jason Messer for many years, and Griggs, who was also an active volunteer in the community, are just two of the inspirations behind the ongoing Breast Cancer Awareness fund-raising activities during the month of October conducted by participating district employees.

Throughout the month, they are selling items such as bracelets, pencils, pens, and stress balls decorated with breast cancer ribbons. Each department is also putting together theme baskets which will be raffled off at a Pink Potluck breakfast on Friday, Oct. 25.

“We have several baskets such as a coffee/chocolate basket, an espresso basket, family game night, spa day, garden-themed (basket) and more,” explained Cardoza.

Proceeds from the theme basket drawing constitute the biggest part of the fund-raiser, she said. Money raised from the sale of the various items above is donated to the Lee Denim Day Foundation which is a part of the American Cancer Society.

“The whole concept of the Lee Denim Day is you pay $5 on Friday and you can dress casual and wear jeans,” Cardoza said.

In addition to the group effort, each department at the district office also conducts separate ways to raise money such as baking goodies, bringing flowers to work which are “sold” for donations.

Other cancer-awareness activities that the employees have done include a Walk at Work Circuit sponsored by the Nutrition Services department. Another week, they went to work wearing “sports-related pink sfuff.” Employees’ work stations and department offices are also awash in pink ribbons and other decorative doodads all aimed at raising awareness to breast cancer and finding a cure for the dreaded disease.

Another week, everyone was asked to wear clothes to work in the color of the type of cancer awareness they are supporting. Cardoza wore “teal and white in memory of my cousin Jowell who passed from lung cancer four years ago, and my Aunt Alice who recently passed from ovarian cancer.”

Some employees are taking part in the fund-raiser and awareness-raising activities for other reasons. Yvonne Grabowski, for example, said she decided to help the cause in the hope that modern research will find a cure and that future generations will not have to suffer from breast cancer of other types of this disease.

“Being a woman, this is something that is close to my heart,” she said.

The potluck breakfast and drawing will conclude the month-long fund-raiser.

Last year’s effort raised more than $2,000 with all the profits donated to the American Cancer Society.

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