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Relay mixes fun, tears, dollars for cancer research
Doves at Relay
Doves were released during an emotional opening ceremony of the Ceres Relay for Life on Saturday morning at Ceres High School. For the next 24 hours, teams took turns walking the track for pledges. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The 2014 Ceres Relay for Life will go down in the books as one of the most successful. The reason? People had a great time, the weather was picture perfect and the committee raised $20,000 more than its goal of $30,000 for the American Cancer Society.

A total of 33 teams participated in last weekend's event that started at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and ended 24 hours later.

The event started when an estimated 300 cancer survivors and caregivers turned out for breakfast courtesy of the Ceres Lions Club.

"It's been a lot of fun," said event chair Angela Durossette.

The "DreamiN for a CuRe" team led by Heidi Ruger, who was the event co-chair, raised the most out of all the teams - $6,200 as of Friday. Coming in second place was the Cost Less Foods team which raised $4,050. Bronco Winery's "Grapes of Wrath" team raised $3,875 while Candice's Crusaders added $3675 to ACA's coffers. Other top performing teams included Save the Rack, Barking for a Cure, B-S & Friends, Fighting for our Angels, Julius' Corner, Save the Tata's, S-Clubbin' for a Cure, Swinging for a Cure, Team Linares, Walking With Angels and Wild for a Cure. The fence around the stadium featured posters detailing the involvement of the teams as they participated in planning meetings.

"We've already had teams say, ‘Alright, I'm starting earlier next year,'" said Durossette.

Each team manned a booth that provided information on specific types of cancer and treatment. Teams also sold goods or food or offered services or carnival type games - all designed to raise funds for the ACA.

Durossette not only chaired the event but served on Ceres High Bulldogs' "Barking for a Cure" team. She got involved in Relay for Life because family members have been affected by cancer.

"My grandpa passed away (from cancer) and my grandmother is a breast cancer survivor," said Angela Durossette, who is in her fourth year of serving on the Ceres Relay committee.

Bret Durossette, her husband and a member of the Ceres City Council, lost his mother from lung cancer from exposure to workplace chemicals. She was 43 upon her death. He helped out at the event and pushed Angelas grandmother, Veronica Giddens Villa of Ceres, around the survivor's lap.

Each hour of the Relay offered a Disney theme, ranging from Minnie's "Bra"-tique to Peter Pan's Pajama Party to keep things fun and interesting.

A number of community groups entertained during the Relay. They included Ceres High School jazz band, Steps Dance Studio, Blaker Kinser Junior High School's Dance Impact, The Ceres High School Perpetual Motion dance team and a special band called Blue Line comprised of musically talented Ceres police officers.

The evening brought a speech by Phil delaPorte who lost his wife Sandy to cancer, as well as the luminaria ceremony. Persons purchased over 500 bags on which they decorated with the name of a loved one who either succumbed to cancer, beat cancer or are dealing with it. Candles were placed inside the bags and set around the track.

Angela said she intends to chair the 2015 relay.

"I'm the type of person that I need to make it better," she said.