March against stomach cancer

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

There was a nip in the air as about 300 people warmed by memories of a good guy named John Cardinale gathered early Saturday on the track at Sonoma Raceway.

Marchers take the starting flag at Sonoma Raceway, part of the third annual John's March Against Stomach Cancer, on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (Charlie Gesell / For The Press Democrat)

Marchers take the starting flag at Sonoma Raceway, part of the
third annual John’s March Against Stomach Cancer, on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (Charlie Gesell / For The Press Democrat)

This wasn’t an auto race, but a walk-run to honor Cardinale, the raceway’s congenial and widely respected raceway vice president of media and community relations until he died from stomach cancer at age 47 nearly a year ago.

Dogs and kids joined the crowd at the third March Against Stomach Cancer, a tribute to Cardinale and a fundraiser for No Stomach for Cancer. The nonprofit provides a host of services to increase awareness of the disease, support research and early detection, and assist affected families.

Saturday’s eager participants, many sporting “We Are John’s Army” T-shirts, massed at the starting line.

One of Cardinale’s sisters, Debbie Cameron, waved the green flag and they were off.

Tickled to be walking or running where some of the fastest cars in the world roar, they made their way merrily around the 12-turn, 2.52-mile course. By the time most finished, the morning had warmed enough to coax them out of their winter apparel.

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At the finish were light refreshments and a sense of having started the day well, completed a most unusual lap on an acclaimed race track and marched against a disease that John Cardinale would have loved to see sidetracked for good.