For the second year, the Relay For Life of Greater Stanislaus County will be hosted at John Thurman Field in Modesto. And it will feature some ‘shimmer and shine’ as classic cars join the fun.
The signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society – with funds raised going to research, advocacy and patient services – this year’s local Relay is set for Saturday, Oct. 8 through Sunday, Oct. 9, running from 9 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday.
The 24-hour format is designed to remind everyone that “Cancer never sleeps” and the goal is to have a member of each participating team on the track at all times. This is not a running, event, however; team members walk around the track at John Thurman Field and can also take part in a number of fun, day-of activities, contests, enjoy music, food and more. Cancer survivors are special guests and all in the community are welcome and encouraged to attend to support the ACS mission.
After not being able to have in-person Relays during the COVID year of 2020, the decision was made to consolidate several events around the region for 2021. That brought the Modesto, Turlock and Oakdale (which included the communities of Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon) Relays under one umbrella. It was christened the Relay For Life of Greater Stanislaus County and moved to the Modesto Nuts minor league ballpark, John Thurman Field.
Returning there this year, and with a Grease/’50s theme, a fun addition is the Classic Car Show, with cars, trucks and motorcycles all welcome. The show pays homage to Modesto’s place in ‘cruising’ history, as the city was the birthplace of George Lucas, and in turn inspired his iconic “American Graffiti” film.
Among the groups expected to display some of their vehicles is the Pharoahs Car Club, based in Modesto, led by Pharoahs International President Wyatt Bowman. Club member Lori-Sue Kersenbrock – a cancer survivor – plans to have her 1977 El Camino in the show at Relay, joined by her husband, Walter. Both are longtime members of the local Pharoahs group, Lori-Sue is a Corporal and Water is a General.
“We have members from Modesto, Ceres, Waterford, Sonora,” Lori-Sue explained of the wide reach of the classic car club.
In existence since 1948, Bowman took over as president in 1979, purchasing the Pharoahs when the struggling club had just a handful of members, slowly building it back up over time. Now, with several thousand members in the Pharoahs International in such diverse countries as Australia, Italy, Canada, Spain and Germany, to name a few, Bowman said they also have about 250 members in the Modesto-area group.
For Lori-Sue, her affection for classic cars started at a young age.
“Probably since I was born,” she said, smiling. “My grandfather had some back east in Michigan and I always watched him rebuilding them.”
The family would visit Michigan at different times, said Lori-Sue, who was born and raised in Pomona.
Her restored 1977 El Camino was originally owned by her husband’s father and they decided to keep it in the family.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work on it,” she said of the family project.
Now living in Modesto, Lori-Sue said she enjoys attending the regular gatherings of the Pharoahs Car Club, along with attending car shows around the region.
As far as her battle with cancer, that started almost two years ago.
“I was diagnosed in October, 2020 and did my treatments through 2021,” she explained. “I did chemotherapy, everything.”
If there is one message Lori-Sue would like to get out there, it’s to be in tune with your body and don’t wait if you find something out of the ordinary.
“It was Stage 4 when I got diagnosed; I felt a little knot the size of a pea,” she said of her breast cancer.
She said she was buoyed by all the family support during her battle.
“Cancer puts you in a weird, funky mood,” she admitted of her up and down journey.
But she also said there is hope; for new treatments, new research and new adventures for herself and other cancer survivors as they work to move past diagnosis and treatment, getting back to more ‘normal’ activities.
“We’re going to keep doing stuff with our car club,” she said of herself and husband Walter, adding that she’s excited to be a part of the upcoming car show and Relay For Life in general.
She will turn 58 in October and mark two years since her cancer diagnosis; commemorating those events with participation in the American Cancer Society’s continuing fight against the disease.
While Relay runs for 24 hours, the Car Show at John Thurman Field is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; a $25 car pre-registration fee is due by Oct. 1. To register a car, go to the event website at www.relayforlife.org/stanislausca.
You can also sign up a team, join an existing team or just plan to attend the Relay For Life in October to help raise funds and awareness. John Thurman Field is at 601 Neece Drive, Modesto.
For additional details about the Relay For Life of Greater Stanislaus County, contact ACS Senior Development Manger TJ Johnson at email@example.com.