Paper luminaria bags lined the track at Rancho San Justo Middle School as cancer survivors began an overnight walk on Aug. 2 for the 20th annual Relay for Life event. Survivors walked by the bags, which had the names of loved ones who had died of cancer written on them.
Relay for Life is a fundraising event for the American Cancer Society that communities around the country take part in every year. Over the past 19 years, the Hollister event has raised about $2.3 million.
Organizer Chuck Obeso-Bradley has participated in the Hollister relay since its inception. As a 12-year throat cancer survivor, he said the $123,000 dollars raised this year is “a remarkable accomplishment for our community.”
People spoke at the event, including Darin Smith, who touched on his experience with cancer.
“For me, cancer has been a relationship builder,” he said. “My fianceé of several years married me shortly after I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”
He spoke about his relationship with his daughter.
“My 11-year-old daughter and I have a bond that is stronger than ever.”
Smith sees the positive in his experience with cancer.
“I’ve created new relationships with the Relay for Life group,” he said. “I’ve also had the opportunity to help other cancer patients by sharing my experience with them. So for me, cancer was not a bad thing; it was definitely life-changing though.”
For more information, visit the San Benito County Relay for Life website.