Feel-Good Friday: Tracy Celebrates Children to remember one lost girl
by Lori Souza / For the Tracy Press
Feb 28, 2013 | 3115 views | 0 0 comments | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tracy Celebrates Children was initially started in honor of our beloved little girl lost, Sandra Cantu. As we go into the fourth year after Sandra’s death at age 8, it’s still hard to believe such a tragedy occurred.

Many of us feel scarred by the memories of her untimely death; others are just sad and feel pain. Yet very few can comprehend the impact Sandra’s death had on her family.

It’s a scar that will never go away, but humbly they have come forward to use Sandra’s birthday as a means to celebrate all children. They know that Sandra’s heart was bigger than any pain they feel, and her life is what we all want to remember.

Sandra loved life, and she lived every day with an infectious smile and the innocence every child is entitled to have.

In 2011, her family and friends started Tracy Celebrates Children in her memory.

It’s an event organized on Sandra’s birthday, March 8, but it is a thank-you to our amazing community, too, her family stated.

“It’s like one big birthday for Sandra,” stated Joe Chavez, Sandra’s uncle. “If she was here, she would have the most fun.”

Looking back at our community in 2009, nobody could have imagined the horror that was crawling in our city and the depth of pain so many felt when Sandra was found a week after her death. Our city begged for the nightmare not to be true.

Strangers, neighbors, children and schools grieved with and for Sandra’s family. It was a blanket of comfort that only a community like Tracy could give away.

Sandra’s family has not forgotten, and in their continuous grief, they humbly give their love back to our community.

In a collaborative effort with city businesses, Sandra’s birthday is celebrated with open arms, clowns, crafts, free exhibits, ice cream and more.

“It’s an exciting time, and we are so grateful for the people of Tracy,” stated Janet Anderson, Sandra’s cousin and the day’s organizer. “This is just one way we can help pay our gratitude back and still celebrate Sandra’s life.”

The heart of the day is a safety event for children of all ages. This includes police and fire department representatives and local Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer Steve Abercrombie.

“This is an event that is close to everyone’s heart in Tracy,” Abercrombie stated. “Children need to know we live in a safe community, but they need to take precautions as well.”

One new addition this year is the CARES program, which provides free car seats to income-qualified families.

Activities on March 8

will begin at 9 a.m. for those with smaller children. As the day moves along, activities after 3 p.m. will be designed for children of all ages. For a full list, visit www.tracycelebrateschildren.com.

• Lori K. Souza, a 24-year resident of Tracy, is a family service worker at Head Start and a member of Grace Church.
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