SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Now in its 13th year, Cruzin' For Life has become one of the most significant fundraisers held annually in Santa Maria.
"It brings our community together and it gives us a chance to raise money to help out the families in need in our area," said Cruzin' For Life board member Kara Cole.
The two-day event raises money for local cancer services, including Mission Hope Cancer Center, which is the main financial beneficiary.
"They've been fantastic," said Dr. Robert Dichmann, Medical Director, Mission Hope Cancer Center. "They've contributed over $800,000 so far over the years."
Dichmann notes the money that has been donated to Mission Hope goes directly to patient needs.
"There is no money that is used for administrative things, it goes directly to the patients," said Dichmann. "We use that money directly for patient services, not necessarily medical services, but really simple things for patients, maybe paying their rent, their grocery bills, gas money."
Other recpients include Make-A-Wish Tri-Counties, American Cancer Society, and new this year, Project Lexi Brown Foundation.
"This is a new one that we hold dear to our hearts," said Cole. "Lexi Brown spoke at our event last year, and it was really touching to hear her speak, she unfortunately past away this year, and we have banners that we'll be giving out Friday night for our cruise for all of our participants."
Cruzin' For Life will be held this weekend, Sept. 16-17 at the Santa Maria Fairpark. Events include live music, BBQ, as well as the popular Survivors Cruise. The cruise allows those who have fought, or are fighting cancer, to ride down Broadway in classic cars has traditionally been held on Saturday, but has been moved to Friday this year. The cruise will start at 6:00 p.m. and will run on Broadway between Cook Street and Stowell Road. On Saturday, a car show will be held, followed by a dinner and auction.
Among those who are volunteering their time for the event will be the Bent Axles Car Club, which has participated for many years.
"The reason is important, and that's cancer," said club president Ann McKinley. "That is the reason that we do this is because we've all had a friend, a club member, a family member, touched by (cancer)."
Cruzin' For Life dates back to 2004 when the Labastida brothers of Santa Maria wanted to create a fundraiser that would benefit local cancer services, but also have fun at the same time. Twelve years later, the brothers have succeeded likely beyond their wildest dreams.
"It's a celebration of life," said Cole. "We get together and we have a good time. We get to hang with the community and get to raise money for a great cause."
Tickets for the Saturday dinner are still available. Anyone interested can find more information at www.cruzinforlife.net or the Cruzin' For Life Facebook page.