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Relay for Life raises $193,300

More than 1,000 people made a stand against cancer last weekend in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life at Merced College's stadium.

The 10th annual event, which began at

9 a.m. Saturday and concluded 24 hours later, raised $193,300 for the cancer society. Eight hundred participants in 56 teams took part in the marathon event and about 1,000 people attended, according to Stephanie Struble, event co-chairwoman.

"This was our biggest event ever," Struble said. "We were quite excited."

By the end of April, the Merced group expects to have received $200,000 in donations. Team members typically commit to raising at least $100 and walking for at least an hour, Struble explained.

Kristi Vincelette, Relay for Life co-chairwoman, said this year's event turned out great and there was a lot of support from the community.

"Most everyone today is touched by cancer, either a relative or a friend," Vincelette said. "It tugs at everyone's heart."

Vincelette said one of the main events Saturday night was the luminaria ceremony. More than a thousand candles were aglow inside special bags and a number of tribute torches also were lighted.

The names of more than 800 cancer victims and survivors are read at the ceremony.

Most Relay for Life participants stay for the entire 24 hours in decorated tents, with entertainment and activities provided throughout the night, Struble said.

Vincelette and Struble head up a 24-member volunteer committee organizing the event.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2485 or dyawger