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Join The March Against Cancer

Enjoy the scenic Sonoma hills on Saturday, Jan. 7 while fighting cancer.

Like my very wise wife says, the start of the new year is a good time to refocus what we want to do with our lives.

I'm hoping to make the most of this year to maintain my health and to help John, Heidi, Sunny, Peter, Larry, Daniel and so many other people to whom I feel connected through our common struggles against cancer.

A good start to that goal will come Saturday during "John's March Against Gastric Cancer." I'll join the crowd in a 2.52-mile walk around Infineon Raceway, the race track in the Sonoma hills. If I appear to be limping, it's probably because I'm getting my monthly octreotide shot on Thursday — such a pain in the butt.

Funds raised from the event will go toward the Gastric Cancer Fund.

The Gastric Cancer Fund is the first organization dedicated to helping fight gastric (stomach) cancer. Although gastric cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, it is one of the most underfunded forms of cancer research. Through education, research, support and advocacy, the organization is dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by gastric cancer.

"I'm happy to lead the charge in the battle against gastric cancer and bring some much-needed awareness to the disease," said Cardinale, vice president of marketing, communications and community relations at the raceway. "At the same time, I'm hoping we can raise funds for further research so that we can better understand and attack this disease."

The public can participate in the event for a suggested minimum donation of $40, which will include the chance to walk/run a lap around the 2.52-mile road course. A shorter, less hilly course will also be available for those who cannot complete the 2.52 miles.

Each participant will receive a T-shirt and light refreshments following the march, including water, fruit slices and other items. The raceway’s Wine Country Winner's Circle will also be available for those who want to take pictures before/after the march.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, and the march will begin at 10 a.m. No advance donation/registration are required; just show up the day of the event. Please note: only cash and checks will be accepted.  Checks should be made payable to The V Foundation and mention "Gastric Cancer Fund" in the memo line. You can RSVP for this event on Facebook.

The weather is expected to cooperate with a warm, sunny day in the North Bay. So, why not get a good start on that resolution to exercise more, or to give more to charity, or to make new friends.

I spend a lot of my time at the track every race season, enjoying drag racing, NASCAR, IndyCar, motorcycle racing and so much more. I've even had the chance to ride on the track in the passenger seat of a race car a few times — a great chance to experience the twists and turns of the road course. I've even been around the track on the back of a motorcycle at full speed … and I admit it's hard to really enjoy the scenic hillsides with your eyes closed.

The chance to walk the track is a great experience, with a series of hills mixed with flat terrain. That's not the only attraction in the scenery. Mixed in the verdant grass you'll see fluffy balls of white and hear the occasional "baa-nana" from the organic landscapers — a flock of sheep.

I've known John Cardinale for years now and he's always been one of the most caring, special people around. John was diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2010, a few months before I was diagnosed with carcinoid cancer. 

John's cancer has been a physical challenge, but it was also a strain on his wife and young daughters. How do you tell your children you have cancer without scaring them to death?

He's been going through intense treatments and now he's looking strong and vital. His family is doing well and the future is looking bright for everyone.

I've come to know a lot of people in similar situations. Cancer can strain a family to the breaking point, or strengthen the bonds even more. Fortunately, John has an amazing support system.

Those who cannot attend the event are still encouraged to make a donation to the Gastric Cancer Fund. Donations can be mailed to John Cardinale, Infineon Raceway, Highways 37 & 121, Sonoma, CA 95476.  Checks should be made payable to The V Foundation and mention "Gastric Cancer Fund" in the memo line. Donations can also be made online.  Please be sure to note that this gift is in honor of “John’s March Against Gastric Cancer.”

For more information on the event, please contact Diana Brennan at dbrennan@infineonraceway.com or 707-933-3918.

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