By ERIN MAYES and SCOTT PESZNECKER
Sona Dixon has been battling cancer since she was diagnosed with throat cancer at age 17. Most recently, she survived breast cancer and has been free of the disease for nine years now.
She was one of the hundreds of survivors and others who gathered to walk and run around the track at Sonora High School on Saturday and Sunday as part of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
This year's walk raised $110,000 for the society.
Neighboring Calaveras County also had a Relay for Life at Bret Harte Union High School on Saturday and Sunday.
Groups from all over Tuolumne County gathered to set up quirky tents around the track.
"Considering the weather, I was really surprised by the turnout," said Relay for Life Manager Sherri Flosi.
Winner of the best campsite award went to the Bed Rock team, made up of employees of Amos Graphics in Sonora. Their site was set up as a bowling alley.
The Breast Strokers, a local support group for women with breast cancer, hung a few dozen bras on its canopy, and they flapped in the breeze as a rainstorm pocked the track and inner field with mudholes.
Juaniva Ramirez of Copperopolis manned the Breast Strokers' tent and said her group, which has been in Sonora for 11 years, has supported the Relay for Life since it first started in this county a few years ago.
Ramirez also is a breast cancer survivor, free of the disease for more than three years now.
Radio stations, Sonora Community Hospital, several area schools and dozens of other groups participated in the 24-hour event in which team members take turns walking or jogging laps around the high school track.
Sonora High School's eight teams, along with Soulsbyville and Sonora elementaries' study and faculty groups, raised $17,000.
"A majority of the kids even stuck it out through the rain," Flosi said.
Between laps, many participants huddled with mugs of cocoa. Some played football and softball on the soggy field.