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Manteca Relay for Life off & running

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Manteca Relay for Life off & running

Manteca Relay for Life Chairwoman Debi Cantrell and local American Cancer Society relay liaison Vickie Cordozo look over the list of teams that have signed up for the 2014 fundraiser.


POSTED January 10, 2014 1:24 a.m.

It takes a lot to put together a fundraiser that pulls in nearly $100,000.

Just ask Debi Cantrell. It’s only January, and already the Manteca Relay for Life Chairwoman is holding routine meetings with more than a dozen of her team leaders to make sure that as the May event approaches, things go as smoothly as possible.

The planning involved is intricate and detailed. Dozens of volunteers are needed and the logistics become even more complicated as the event draws near.

But as Cantrell can attest, all of the work that goes in to turning an ordinary fundraiser into a community gathering pays off the second that the first participant steps foot out onto the track for what will be a 24-hour marathon session to stand in solidarity against a disease that has affected most American households in one way or another.

“Watching all of the survivors that we have come out to the event and knowing that I had a hand in putting everything together to bring them there is an amazing feeling,” Cantrell said. “It’s about family unit. Everybody is there for the same reason – cancer has affected our lives in some way.

“And you’ll experience every single emotion that exists on that day – from happy to sad to angry. But at the end of it all, it’s about raising money to help advance towards a cure and treatment in this fight.”

The event was started by a single doctor – Dr. Gordy Klatt – from Western Washington that took to the track at the University of Puget Sound and started taking laps for an event that would come to be known as the “City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.” Klatt totaled 83 miles in a 24-hour period at Baker Stadium in a small, quaint event that included a few friends that supported his idea of raising money and donating it to the local American Cancer Society office.

He had no idea that his efforts would spread throughout the country and lead to millions of dollars in donations pouring in for cancer research and advocacy operations across the country. 

Wednesday night Cantrell joined Vickie Cordozo from the American Cancer Society’s Modesto office – a field liaison that helps oversee five different Relay for Life events spread out over three counties – at Manteca Bowl and Family Fun Center to lay some of the framework for the fast-approaching May event.

Last year teams raised $89,000 – $4,000 more than the current goal – but early progress was far slower than what organizers have seen. According to Cordozo, at this point last year there were only 18 registered teams compared to the 42 that are currently signed up to participate.

Cordozo said that she has no doubts that the overall team goal of 49 will be reached by the May 3 rolls around, and has high hopes for the fundraising portion of the event.

“What we’re pushing for with events like this is a combination of awareness, service, advocacy and education and the money raised goes towards that – 80 percent of it goes to pay for research and the outreach efforts that we have in different communities,” Cordozo said. “Things tended to slow down when the economy slowed down, but we’re hoping that things will rebound a little bit this year. We feel good about the expectations, but there is more to it than just the money raised – we get to push for awareness, service advocacy and education at the event, and it’s a perfect opportunity.”

For additional information about the Manteca Relay for Life or to make a donation, visit

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