And, just like that, our world is a little less bright. A gem of a friend has moved on from this world, crushing his amazingly large core of fans.

After battling gastric cancer for more than two years, the fight is over for our beloved friend and former co-worker. There were many victories along the way, but in the end the disease proved too tough an opponent.

John Cardinale worked as a sports writer for the Ledger Dispatch, where he regularly covered the Antioch Speedway, and later for the Valley Times where he was sports bureau chief in the 1990s. For the past 15 years, he was highly regarded in his role of vice president of communications at Sonoma Raceway. The Martinez resident quickly gained respect among all for his stunning work ethic and engaging demeanor.

At 47, he leaves behind an enormous amount of friends and admirers. Also left to carry on without him are his devoted wife of 18 years, Andrea, and beautiful and smart daughters, ages 11 and 7. That is where the extra layer of heartbreak lies -- in knowing his trio of girls, whom he loved to the deepest depths, will have to continue without this gregarious, hardworking and ethical soul.

While we mourn along with his family, the news of his passing has spread across the country. Thousands of comments and postings on Facebook, Twitter and the like have paid tribute to this honorable man.

I have an indescribable sadness for his sweet family, and thinking of it covers me in a wash of helplessness. But in the midst of the grieving, I think of the hope that Relay for Life offers.


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The community, support and hopefulness are outstanding at these annual spring and summer events. Here, folks from an array of backgrounds, neighborhoods, economic status and races all join forces against cancer -- the disease that clearly has no preference.

Simply put, Relay for Life is a weekend designated to celebrate survivors and raise money for research and programs for the American Cancer Society. Community members unite in an effort to celebrate the lives of those who have faced cancer and remember the loved ones lost to the disease. Everyone is invited to join this major fundraiser. Participants camp out at the relay site, walk around the track during designated times, take part in various activities and enjoy local entertainment. Teams from companies, churches, organizations, hospitals and schools collect donations.

Local Relays will be on May 18 at Oakley's Freedom High School, on June 1 at Brentwood's Liberty High School, on June 22 at Pittsburg's Los Medanos College, and July 22 at another Pittsburg location to be announced later.

For more information about Relay for Life, call 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.relayforlife.org. For more information on gastric cancer, visit www.nostomachforcancer.org

Our friend always said that his family was his inspiration. ... "They mean everything to me, and then some."

So, while my family has done the Relay a dozen times, this year the event will take an intensely deep new meaning for us. As we hit the track, we will continue to love and honor our friend. And, we will continue to hope.

Contact Trine Gallegos at trineg@att.net.