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Driving Hard To Find A Cure For Cancer

A good cause brings together good friends in John's Army at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway.

I'm just about ready for race season again. My wife Tracy and I went to the Corte Madera Library and rented the first season of Top Gear, so now we're excited about seeing some high-octane action at the race track this year, and reuniting with close friends.

Saturday was a beautiful day at the race track, my home away from home. The roar of the engines … no, wait, it was actually pretty quiet. The cars speeding through the turns … oh, well, there wasn't any of that going on either.

It wasn't exactly a big horsepower event, it was more footpower, but Saturday's fundraiser at Sonoma's Infineon Raceway was a great success. Tracy and I joined "John's March Against Gastric Cancer" for a 2.52-mile walk around the road course in the rolling Sonoma hills. We were part of a crowd of nearly 400 people at the event, which raised more than $14,000 for gastric cancer research.

The event was held in honor of John Cardinale and organized by his friends and coworkers at Infineon Raceway. John, one of my dearest friends over the past two decades, was diagnosed with gastric cancer around the same time I was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer.

Tracy was virtually in tears, and she wasn't the only one, as John spoke to the crowd in the winner's circle before we marched onto the track. He's a strong man and doing well in his recovery, but cancer always takes a toll — emotional and physical. It hasn't been easy on any of us, including John's wife Andrea and daughters. John was just trying to get through his speech as he spoke about Andrea and how she's supported him through this trial.

For a minimum $40 donation, folks were invited to run, walk and even bicycle around the track — and there was quite a crowded field at the starting line, including quite a few dogs.

The flag dropped on the event, the replica #18 M&M's NASCAR Toyota Camry revved its engine and slowly rolled forward to lead the pack of walkers.

Stock cars have enough trouble navigating the course going up the hill and around Turn 2, but taking it on foot gassed a lot of people. A few folks got a ride in a golf cart, others took a short cut down the dragstrip. There were no spinouts and no crashes, at least. There was one runaway baby stroller, however.

Crossing the finish line, Tracy and I did our best imitations of the bionic duo, Steve Austin and Jamie Summers, running in slow motion with arms raised in triumph. 

We're part of "John's Army" and we're proud to serve, to fight and to win.

Saturday was a great way to start the year, especially for those of us who are trying to get more exercise in 2012. I'm looking forward to more cancer fundraisers this year. Here's a brief calendar of events, with more to come I'm sure. Check with organizations to find a fundraiser in your area, or to find other ways to help.

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer: July 7-8 in the San Francisco Bay Area 

Ultimate Cycle Challenge: Feb. 24-25 

Caring for Carcinoid Foundation at the L.A. Marathon and 5K: March 17-18.

Relay for Life: Aug. 25 at College of Marin

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