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Riverbank Teen Relays In Fight Against Cancer
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Daniela Lopez of Riverbank had her team at Relay For Life on Saturday, helping raise money in honor of Laura Perez, battling cancer, and in memory of her grandmother, Socorro Baez Gomez, who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. Marg Jackson/The News

There are many reasons to get involved in the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event, Relay For Life.

For 17-year-old Daniela Lopez of Riverbank, her main reason to relay is the loss of a relative.

“My grandmother passed away from pancreatic cancer when I was 10,” the Enochs High School junior said.

Now, she has a team, Because Of You We Fight Together, which features primarily family members taking part in the annual event.

The 2019 Relay For Life of Oakdale-Escalon-Riverbank-Waterford was hosted on Saturday, April 27 at Oakdale High School, running from 9 a.m. to midnight. Lopez had her team there, helping raise both money and awareness in the fight against cancer.

“I’ve been doing it for the past five year,” she explained of participating in Relay For Life in memory of her grandmother, Socorro Baez Gomez.

The teen said she did some research after her grandmother passed away, wanting to do something to honor her memory. She came upon the American Cancer Society, got information about Relay and decided that’s how she could help.

She also plans to study oncology in college and go in to the field to help find a cure for cancer.

“Every Relay gets me one step closer to my dream,” she said. “We’re all here for the same cause, it doesn’t matter what type of cancer, we are all fighting.”

This year’s Relay, for the first time, did not go the traditional 24 hours, shortened to a 15-hour event as a trial run. It did include the opening ceremonies, featuring the Survivor Lap, plenty of teams circling the track with games, raffle drawings, and food. There was a coordinated Balloon Release, a Ms. Relay pageant, special activities for survivors and caregivers, a nighttime luminaria ceremony complete with bagpipe player and more.

Fundraising totals as of presstime on April 29 had soared past the $75,000 level. Teams from all communities participated and Lopez said she plans to continue being a part of the event in the years to come.