Tracy kids celebrated in Sandra Cantu’s name
by Anne Marie Fuller
Mar 13, 2014 | 8485 views | 0 0 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Celebrating children
Sparkles the clown paints a colorful heart design on Kaylyn Yang, 3, on Friday as part of Tracy Celebrates Children, an annual event that honors the memory of Sandra Cantu. The day included free activities and services for local children 12 and younger.  Anne Marie Fuller/For the Tracy Press
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Sandra Cantu would have turned 13 last week. She was kidnapped and murdered in March 2009. The search for her body and then her killer made headlines throughout Northern California.

Now, to mark her March 8 birthday, Sandra’s family, along with friend Joyce Shepherd, organized and attended a daylong celebration for local children Friday in her memory.

The annual event, Tracy Celebrates Children, invites local children to participate in free activities at various locations throughout Tracy.

Sandra’s family met with parents and kids at LaFleurs Nail & Spa, 1924 W. Grant Line Road, where girls got manicures.

“This is for the kids,” Sandra’s mother, Maria Chavez, said. “This makes me feel good to keep Sandra’s memory alive.”

Angie Chavez, Sandra’s aunt, was also pleased by the growth of the event, which was first held in 2011.

“I’m amazed this continues to grow year after year,” she said. “The support throughout this community has been awesome. It’s great that the kids get to have a day for them that still honors my niece.”

The event was open to all local children 12 and younger. Free activities kicked off with a gymnastics open house at 9 a.m. at Classic Gymnastics, 3602 Mars Way, Ste. 113, and continued throughout the day.

Highlights including fingernail painting, dance classes, martial arts lessons, stories and crafts, bowling, a children’s safety fair and a pet adoption fair. Girls and boys were treated to free ice cream, frozen yogurt, face painting and visits from several popular local clowns.

“I know about Sandra Cantu,” said Taylor Burton, 8, of Tracy, who enjoyed a serving of frozen yogurt at Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. “I know her story. I think this is a good event.”

Kay Vue took her 3-year-old daughter, Kaylyn Yang, out to Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, 1888 W. 11th St.

“This is our first time taking part in this event,” Vue said. “My daughter is having lots of fun today.”

Heidi Horner and her 2-year-old daughter, Payton, were also taking part in Tracy Celebrates Children for the first time.

“I love it! We are doing all the events around nap time today,” Horner said. “I definitely think it’s a great way to honor Sandra Cantu.”

In all, more than 21 local businesses participated in offering free services or activities. Several nonprofit organizations and local police and fire representatives helped with the event.

Tracy Celebrates Children is an annual event and takes place in March to commemorate the birthday of Sandra Cantu. For more information, visit

• Contact the Tracy Press newsroom at or 835-3030.

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