SELMA – The Circle the City fundraiser may have a new name, but the purpose is the same: Raise money and awareness.
Selma’s Cancer Support walk is now called the Central Valley Cancer Walk. This year’s event is from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 30 at Selma’s Pioneer Village, 1880 Art Gonzales Parkway.
Organizer Marianne Rodriguez said the cause is near to her heart, as her husband is a cancer survivor.
“My husband Louie Rodriguez has just celebrated four years of [having no evidence of the disease] from stage four head and neck cancer," she said. "We wouldn’t have made it without the help and support of SCS and our awesome community.”
The walk will raise money for Cancer Support, a local nonprofit comprised of volunteers who, for the past 12 years, have helped cancer patients and their families in the community.
“This event raises money that stays right here in our community," she said. "It’s a priceless resource in our community that celebrates, honors and encourages the many people affected by cancer."
Rodriguez is hoping to generate more community interest in the event and get city leaders, schools, businesses, churches, clubs, survivors and their families involved.
Kathy Macias Alatorre is another of the volunteers who has taken part in the fundraising walks for the past five years. She, too, got involved when her husband Frank Alatorre was diagnosed with cancer.
Alatorre credits the nonprofit with helping her through the confusion that often comes after a cancer diagnosis and says having the financial help made a huge difference for their family.
“When you go through something like this, you have this feeling of what am I going to do? It’s a lost feeling," she said. "[Selma Cancer Support] was a god-send to me. I didn’t know what to expect and they helped me through the rough patches. I’ve been volunteering ever since. It’s my way of giving back for everything they did because I know what it feels like when you get that news.”
Rodriguez said she and her family became familiar with the local nonprofit after one of their friends made contact with the organization’s President Char Tucker.
“The morning of my husband’s surgery, I sat in our car trying to collect my thoughts. With an anxious heart, I quietly prayed," she said. "I was suddenly startled by the sound of my cellphone ringing. Char Tucker quickly introduced herself, asked about my husband and made sure to inquire as to how I was doing, too."
After Tucker offered kind words and shared her contact information, Rodriguez said she was grateful for the incredible timing.
“I smiled as tears streamed down my face. I sighed with relief before walking back into the hospital to wait.”
Selma Cancer Support helped the Rodriguezes with some of their expenses through funds that were raised at previous walks.
“Facing financial difficulties on top of fighting a terminal illness can make you lose your mind. It’s overwhelming," she said. "Thankfully, we were able to meet most of our financial obligations and we were able to concentrate on beating cancer, which by the way he did.”
Neighboring cities will join in this year’s Central Valley Cancer Walk raising funds for their communities.
Since the funds are quickly depleted, Rodriguez is eager to see locals get more involved.
“Please, won’t you ask your neighbors, co-workers, family and friends to come together and help our community? It’s easy to form a team, raise some money and enjoy the day at beautiful Pioneer Village,” she said.
Alatorre agrees and is eager to see schools and clubs help raise funds that help local families.
“Nobody knows Selma Cancer Support is there since all the money they raise is for the patients," she said. "They’re helping them with whatever they need so it’s not used for advertising. It’s by word of mouth, so I wish the community leaders would be more involved then that would spread out to the whole community and got more people out there.”
Alatorre said that even if residents can’t form a team, she encourages them to come by and contribute financially since the walk is a fundraiser.
“The main point of it is to raise money, so this year we’re raffling off a weekend at the coast. That money we raise will stay in the community,” she said.
She also encourages all residents and other cancer patients to come out to the walk to meet other survivors.
“My husband didn’t want to go out there the first time, but I wanted him to go and see he wasn’t the only one going through this," Alatorre said. "For him to see other people out there, he realized that he wasn’t alone. There are a lot of people in our community that you wouldn’t even realize that are fighting this battle.
For the patients, they get the feeling that even if it’s hard right now, you’re not the only one and we’re all doing this together.”
Alatorre says the walk also benefits caretakers as well.
“Whether you’re a wife, a husband, the children, the mother, or the father, it’s support for you, too. I know it helped me,” she said.
Vendors, music and activities will be part of the event. Registration packets may be picked up at the Bill Tucker Real Estate office, 2128 North St., or by calling 891-7591.
“We wouldn’t wish a cancer diagnosis on anyone,” Rodriguez said. “It changes you. Please don’t wait to get involved because you have a need. Please get involved because of your heart for others in your home town. Knowing that there is a place of refuge for the cancer patient, and their loved ones, is priceless.”