Employees in Relay for Life

UniSource Energy Services employees played a big role in the annual Relay For Life of Santa Cruz, serving as key fundraisers and volunteers for the annual event to benefit the American Cancer Society.

More than 25 UES volunteers and their family members took turns walking around the outdoor track June 11 in a relay formatted event. Members walked for about an hour each at Pierson Vocational High School in Nogales.

For the past 10 years, Norma Lucero, the Administrative Assistant of the Nogales office and the team captain, has been active in organizing and managing the event with friends, co-workers and family members.

She previously served for four years as the chair of the entire event. During the years that Lucero was chair, the UES team placed among the top three fundraisers for an event that raises an average of $35,000 annually. In addition, she oversees the serving of pulled pork, menudo, and bean burritos that are sold at the event to raise additional money for the cause.

“It’s such a wonderful event. So many people in the community take part in it. You don’t realize so many families in the community are touched by this,” Lucero said. “It’s neat to see a lot of them celebrate their life as a community. We owe it to each other to celebrate the survivors and work toward the financial goals to support more research to have a better chance for a cure.”

Lucero said she wasn’t directly affected by the cause when she began participating in the event. But as time went on, she knew more family members, friends and community members who were battling cancer.

“It came to me for a reason. It was my responsibility,” she said. “There are employees who have lost family members to cancer or have family members who are fighting cancer, and the Relay For Life gives them that opportunity to come together as a family and join the UniSource team to make a difference for all those around us.”

The UES team this year helped raise more than $1,700.

“My father died of cancer last year and my wife is recovering from cancer. So this event is really a way of showing our gratitude for all the people that have helped us,” said Steve Clarke, Supervisor of Construction & Maintenance in the UES Nogales office.

The first Relay For Life in the nation was held in May 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society. Since then, other Relay For Life events have spread around the world, helping to raise more than $4 billion.

“Events like this bond us as a company, but also as a community,” Lucero said. “Nogales is a small community. We are all somehow related to each other and we care about giving back to the community because we are all family.”