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Smart move to buy $20 Relay for Life ticket
Jeryl Weiler hugs fellow Relay for Life volunteer Linda Rose after arriving at USA Motors Wednesday night to claim her prize a 2002 Smart Car. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP – Jeryl Weiler was tossing around the idea of buying a scooter to get back and forth to her job in Stockton.

Her white GMC Yukon XL isn’t exactly easy on the gas. And with prices likely to rise due to the summer driving season the hit to her pocketbook won’t be easing up anytime soon.

And all of that changed with a single phone call Wednesday night.

Weiler, a Lathrop Relay for Life volunteer, was the winner of a 2002 Smart Car raffled off to benefit the upcoming American Cancer Society fundraiser taking place on Aug. 27-28 at Valverde Park. She sold nine of the $20 tickets, and one of those was to herself.

“I told my husband that I don’t ever win things like this, so I’m going down there to find out,” she said after being called and told that she was the big winner. “I thought that they were pulling my leg. I still can’t believe this.”

Roughly 300 people bought tickets to try and win the car – donated by USA Motors of Lathrop – to raise almost $6,000. It was the same amount that the group collected at the same fundraiser last year when USA Motors donated a Dodge Neon for the raffle.

“We’re so grateful to USA Motors because 100 percent of the proceeds of the ticket sales goes to Relay for Life,” said Event Chair Charmaine Barajas. “This is the biggest fundraiser that we put on outside of the actual event, and it helps us raise some money to cover some of the expenses that we incur putting on the event.

“Our goal this year is raise around $39,000 and we’ve already taken in $6,600 in donations on-line. We’re hoping to reach out to the business community but it’s hard because of the economy and the fact that Manteca already had theirs and their event is a little bit more established than ours. But this is our third and we’re hoping that will be a big year for us.”

More than a hundred people crowded onto the USA Motors lot Wednesday for what served as the dealership’s customer appreciation party, the Lathrop Chamber of Commerce’s monthly mixer and the Relay for Life’s raffle event.

According to USA Motors owner Rhonda Ramsey, the Relay for Life holds a special place in the heart of both her and husband Steve and will always be something that they support.

“Both of us have parents that are cancer victims, and we wanted to do something that could help on that front,” Ramsey said. “Cancer is something that doesn’t know age, creed or color and we wanted to give back to something here in Lathrop where we knew the money would stay local. When we saw Relay for Life we knew that it was something we could support, and with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the organizing committee, hopefully that provides the seed money that they need for the event.”