John Krediet's favorite part of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life is also the toughest for him to watch -- the cancer survivors' lap.
"I have yet to watch a whole lap," he said in a low voice about the event's kick-off lap. His brother died four months after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Krediet was his brother's caregiver.
More than 1,800 people on 120 teams took part in Modesto's Relay for Life from 9 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday. The event is in its 17th year.
Among thousands held nationwide throughout May and June, Relay for Life seeks to raise awareness about cancer, recognize victims and survivors of the disease, and collect money to help research a cure.
Groups camped on Johansen High School's football field, with team members running or walking around the clock.
The weekend's event is expected to meet its fund-raising goal of $370,000. Krediet's group, Riders for a Cure, collected $26,000 in donations, the most of Modesto's teams. They raffled a motorcycle and flat-screen television.
"It's important, you have to find a cure. Too many people are dying," Krediet said.
Participant Leona Delos Reyes is a 20-year breast cancer survivor. She's undergone therapy three times, in 1990, 2006 and February. Battling the disease has reinforced her faith, hope and love, she said. Reyes' passion and attitude rubs off on teammates -- her Relay for Life team, Umbrellas of Luv, captured the event's Spirit Trophy for the fifth time Sunday.
"You have to fight back. I'm living proof that cancer is not a death sentence. You can live your life during cancer and after cancer," said the 55-year-old.
Teams organize and raise money all year, which Reyes said is her favorite thing about the relay.
"It's an opportunity to the community and families to get together and show their support," she said.
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.