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Community comes together for cancer event
relay pic1
Members of the Turlock High School Relay for Life team and coordinator Kristin Bettencourt (in pink shirt) take a giant chair break from walking during Saturdays fundraising event to benefit the American Cancer Society. - photo by Photo Contributed

Hundreds of community members from Turlock and Hilmar made their way to the Dutcher Middle School track on Saturday for Relay for Life, raising funds and awareness for cancer research in Turlock’s 20th year hosting the event.

A total of 28 teams came together to raise just over $78,000 through months of hard work and fundraising, and Turlock High School’s team led the pack by raising $17,318. Hilmar Cheese and Century 21 M&M rounded out the top three fundraising teams, collecting $15,366 and $11,678, respectively.

It was the first year that the event featured a 12-hour timeline rather than 24 hours, which coordinator Kristin Bettencourt believes boosted morale.

“I really do feel like cutting the hours down helped the momentum of the event stay up,” she said. “People were having fun. Instead of being exhausted, we left at midnight wanting more.”

For the past 20 years, the event has helped bring the community together and celebrate those who have battled against cancer.

“I think it says a lot about our community, and I tell the kids cancer doesn’t discriminate,” Bettencourt said. “This brings out all kinds of families and different people — it doesn’t matter race,’s really inspiring to see everyone come together.”