• WHAT: Relay for Life
• WHEN: Saturday
• TIME: 9 a.m.
• WHERE: East Union High School
• ITINERARY: Opening ceremony, 9 a.m.; survivors lap, 9:30 a.m.; luminary ceremony, 8:30 p.m.; closing ceremony, Sunday, 9 a.m.
On Saturday night, when the sun has set and thousands of tiny lights illuminate the dark of Dino Cunial Field, Kim Bettencourt will whisper softly into a breeze.
And hopes her grandmother, Victoria, hears her words.
It has been an emotional week for Bettencourt, the event chair of this weekend’s Relay for Life at East Union High.
She will participate in the 24-hour relay with Team Doctor’s Hospital of Manteca and celebrate her mother’s fifth year of survivorship with every lap she turns around the dusty track.
Her mother, Florence, is a breast cancer survivor and will join her daughter on Saturday night for the luminary celebration.
In that moment, Bettencourt will also remember Victoria, who lost her battle with cancer in June. Victoria was diagnosed with colon cancer, but it metastasized into her liver and bones.
“This year is going to be a little more emotional than normal,” Bettencourt said. “I lost my grandmother in June of last year and it’s been a difficult time.
“On the other hand, my mom is a survivor. It’s exciting to see that, but also sad in a sense because of my grandmother.”
She’ll draw strength from the thousands in attendance, many of whom are survivors.
Manteca’s Relay for Life will feature 41 teams. Collectively, they’ve raised more than $45,000 for the American Cancer Society.
“It’s one big family,” Bettencourt said.
Let’s meet a few of those family members, with testimony and stories from their Relay for Life fundraising pages:
Monique Biggs is going big – bigger than most registered this weekend’s event. To date, she has raised $1,635 for the American Cancer Society, placing her atop the individual leaderboard.
But she’s not raising money for personal glory. Her mission will take the help of many: “Together, we have the power to help create a world with less cancer and more birthdays!”
Biggs is a member of Team Capture Life’s Moments, and a teammate of ...
Arrellano is fast-approaching her personal fund-raising goal of $500, but her impact is best measured over time.
She is a familiar face at this event. Arrellano first got involved with Relay for Life eight years ago because a coworker was in the throes of second bout with cancer.
This year, Arrellano is honoring her cousin, the late Jowell Griggs. The longtime Manteca resident passed away in 2009 shortly after doctors discovered a tumor in her lung.
“I have watched too many people pass from cancer. The most difficult was my cousin Jowell’s battle for her life,” she wrote. “About a year after her diagnosis, she too lost her battle. Cancer has taken way too many lives and I will not stop fighting until there is a cure!”
Deloris Dutra is the top fund-raiser on the top grossing team, Walking For a Cure, which has raised $4,737.36.
Like many, Dutra returns to Relay for a Life with a renewed purpose and inspiration. This will be her fifth relay, and she’s marked the occasion with nearly $720 in donations.
“I started because a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she wrote on her fundraising page. “Each year that passes I find new reasons to continue.”
The beauty and power of Relay for Life is not found in the pocketbook or wallet, she says.
It’s in the stories.
Go ahead and listen.
“It is important to me that I listen closely to every story. I will cheer them on, wipe their tears and walk along side them and support their efforts.”
Donetto Angelo and Raquel Castro
Raquel Castro and Donetto Angelo have earned the right to walk with the Super Survivor Squad ($4,173.60).
Each is a survivor.
Angelo was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2004, while Castro has beaten two forms of cancer: Thyroid (1997) and breast (2007).
“I’ve had friends and family battle this monster,” Angelo wrote. “Some successfully, others we have lost. My battle in comparison, thankfully, was relatively mild, but … I want to make a meaningful difference in the fight against cancer.”
The two are Super Survivor Squad’s top fundraisers. Angelo has raised $785, exceeding her personal goal, while Castro has secured $665.
Donations are a necessity in this global fight against cancer, but they aren’t a requirement.
Your presence, Castro says, is currency enough.
“My reason to relay is to join people around the world in celebrating those who have survived cancer, remembering the people we’ve lost, and supporting the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society.”