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Relay: It’s all relative

For Strunc-Diaz clan, tonight’s Relay for Life is a family affair
The Ennis Public Library’s Jessica Strunc Diaz and her relatives are among many local families involved in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Ennis. What’s unique about this clan is that six immediate members have divided themselves among three competing groups –– with father, daughter, and son-in-law as team captains.
When Ennis Relay started in 2005, Diaz joined the library’s team and persuaded her husband Santos to join her.
“My family suffered a big loss in 1981 when my grandmother, Marie Strunc, died from a brain tumor, so this cause is very important to me,” Jessica said. “When I found out that Relay for Life was about raising money for the American Cancer Society, I knew that I wanted to be involved. This is my third year as team captain.”
Her husband Santos added: “After the second relay, my father was diagnosed with liver cancer. It was really tough, but by the grace of God he’s been cancer-free for almost two years. I’m so thankful for that, so I felt like I needed to do something to help make a difference.”
For Relay’s third year, Santos helped restart a team for his employer, the Ennis Post Office. This year he’s serving as its team captain as well.
The couple’s nine-year-old son Matthew has been an official team member of the Library’s Relay team for two years now. He, too, wants to help raise money “because I want the American Cancer Society to get cures. My great-grandma says I saved her life because I noticed a white spot on her face. She had it checked out and it was cancer.”
Fortunately it was caught early and she didn’t need any additional treatment after having it removed, his parents confirmed. As for the actual Relay event, Matthew said “the best part is the water balloon toss.”
The 2008 Relay marks the second year for Jessica’s father, Gary Strunc of Ennis Inc., to be involved with Relay. There was some debate initially over which team he should join.
“I started out as a volunteer for my son-in-law’s post office team last year,” he said. “My father worked as a letter carrier for 29 years, so I thought it was fitting to be on that team. At the last Relay, Juanette Prachyl and I were inspired to start a team for Ennis Inc. We’ve lost a lot of good friends to cancer, and so we’ve ended up with enough members to divide into two teams – Ennis Inc. Imprint and Ennis Inc. Custom.”
Being a new team captain, Gary recruited wife Patti to join him.
“My motivation to Relay is that I’ve had cousins battle breast cancer,” she said, “and because I’ve lost friends to various other forms of cancer.”
Another first-timer is their son Randy, who joined sister Jessica’s library team. “I never knew my grandmother because of cancer,” he said. “I think this is a good way to honor her memory.”
With family members dispersed between three teams, there’s some good-natured rivalry.
“It’s really nice to have my whole family involved this year,” Jessica added. “Of course there’s some competition, but I really want to help them out and see them all do well. Just not as well as my team!”
The Strunc and Diaz family are among many team members ready to hit the track for Ennis Relay at the Ennis Junior High Stadium tonight at 6 p.m.

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Posted by on Apr 25 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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