Calexico relay closes out with inspiring message to keep fundraising

April 15, 2012|By ELIZABETH VARIN | Imperial Valley Press Staff Writer
  • Groups walk around the Calexico High School track for the Relay of Life event held from Saturday to Sunday.
Groups walk around the Calexico High School track for the Relay of Life event held from Saturday to Sunday.

CALEXICO — After spending more than 26 hours setting up, fighting the weather and walking Siria Hurtado was ready to go home and sleep.

Each member of her team Calderon switched off walking throughout the 24-hour relay period, and she estimated each had walked about 5 or 6 miles throughout the night.

It was the first time the family had formed a team and join the cause to find a treatment for cancer. Hurtado’s brother is being treated for colon cancer, and the family decided to show their support.

Though the group was out at the track throughout the night, “it’s well worth it,” she said.

Many people agreed, staying out overnight and braving the wind and cold for the Calexico Relay for Life. The annual walk kicked off Saturday morning and wrapped up Sunday.

The event went really well, said 2012 Calexico Relay for Life Chairwoman Elizabeth Esqueda. The goal was to raise $35,000, and as of Sunday they had $29,400. There’s still time to reach that goal, as fundraising continues until the end of August, and Esqueda said she’s sure they’ll reach the goal before then.

Throughout the day Saturday and into Sunday there were always people walking on the track, she said. There weren’t as many people out because of the weather, but the Calexico High track still looked full with all the teams out.

One of those teams set up along the side of the track was E.C. Lightning, a group of mostly El Centro residents who wanted to get involved this year, said team leader Ronda Gomez. Team E.C. Lightning raised the most money out of all the teams at $3,258, followed by teams PINA and Victorious Ones with $2,800 and $2,375 respectively. The top individual fundraisers were Becky Gomez with $2,600, Hilda Flores with $2,220 and Martha Otero with $2,161.

For E.C. Lightning this year’s event was the first time the group had formed a team, Gomez said.

“We just did our best, and like I said it’s our first year,” she said. “We weren’t expecting to make it to the top, but we love being there.”

The work that the American Cancer Society is doing is great, she said. They never turn away people who need help.

Some of those at the relay event were survivors helped by the American Cancer Society, while others have been affected in other ways.

Damyan Zuno, 6, was one of those survivors, having had kidney cancer when he was 2 1/2. He told his mother Gabriela Gasca that he was happy to meet the other survivors and get to see others like him.

Damyan had a special role this year, winning prizes and being given a remote control car at the closing ceremony. He had a bright smile on his face as he talked about the Incredible Hulk gloves he won, showing off his missing two front teeth.

It was also fun being out walking through the day, he said.

Part of Sunday’s event was the closing ceremony, which relay chairwoman Esqueda said is an inspirational event. More work is continuing to reach the Calexico relay’s goal.

“It isn’t just a 24-hour event,” she said. “It continues because cancer continues to be a problem.”

Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at or 760-337-3441.

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